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Worldwide Ceremonies, UN Mourns Baghdad Victims


In Worldwide Ceremonies, UN Mourns Baghdad Terror Victims On First Anniversary

With solemn words and mournful music, black ribbons and a silent march, the lighting of candles and the unveiling of plaques, the entire United Nations system today marked the first anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad, one of the darkest days in the world body's history.

From Baghdad itself to UN Headquarters in New York, from Geneva to Buenos Aires and in other far-flung outposts of its worldwide operations, staff observed a minute's silence, top officials and local representatives paid homage and relatives mourned the 22 people who perished in the blast of 19 August 2003.

In Baghdad, almost within site of the ruins of the Canal Hotel where top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and many of his colleagues died, dozens of women and men, both Iraqi and international UN staff members, gathered in the Diwan School in the International Zone.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi delivered a message from Mr. Annan and paid tribute to the victims, survivors, those injured and their families for their determination to press on with their mission in serving the Iraqis and other peoples around the world. The attackers "will not deter us from going ahead with the UN," the Officer-in-Charge of the UN Administration in Baghdad, Anas Darwash, said in re-pledging the commitment of Iraqi UN staff to pursue their work with dedication in helping the country to emerge from successive wars and build a secure future. A religious service including an Imam and two priests was held.

At the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, Mr. Annan himself led the commemoration ceremonies, pledging to do all in his power to reinforce security in the face of the "new and more intimidating" form of danger that faces the world body as it goes about its global peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. After a minute's silence, candles were lit for each of the victims.

A Louise Fréchette presided over ceremonies attended by representatives of the bereaved families as well as colleagues who were injured in the bombing.

A documentary film celebrating the achievements of the fallen was shown, and Ms. Fréchette unveiled a plaque and the UN flag that had flown over the Canal Hotel that fateful day one year ago, damaged by the blast but still proud.

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