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UN staff from across globe join in one voice of solidarity with terror victims

UN staff from across globe join in one voice of solidarity with terror victims

Secretary-General addressing staff
United Nations staff from across the globe, many wearing the traditional attire of their home countries, packed the General Assembly Hall in New York at a solemn ceremony their union had called to show solidarity with the Government and people of the United States and to extend sympathy to those affected by Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

"The full dimensions of this tragedy are still unfolding, as losses are confirmed and hope for miracles fades," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the emotional, standing-room-only ceremony in the Assembly Hall, which traditionally hosts meetings of government delegates from around the world.

"Our host city is deeply wounded, our host country is in mourning, but their magnificent spirit is not broken," the Secretary-General said.

"We all remain shaken," he said. "Like many others in this city, we are back at work, trying to pick up where we left off, yet gnawed by a sickening feeling that nothing will ever be the same again."

Led by the Secretary-General, the UN staff - men and women representing different countries and religions - joined hands as they observed a moment of silence to honour the victims and express sympathy for all those who have suffered loss.

During the ceremony, which was webcast to UN duty stations around the globe, UN staff members from each continent took the floor to express their shock, condolences and support for the United States, its democratic values, and its people.

"Today, faced with this horrific tragedy, we stand together as one, united in our universal grief, united in our universal sorrow, united in our hope, strength and love," said Dimitri Samaras, a representative of UN staff working in development and population agencies. "We feel with America, we pray with America, and we cry with America."

"God bless all the survivors, all the fighters, all the lost, all the mourning," he said. "You are - and will - forever be in our heavy hearts."

Rosemary Waters, the UN Staff Council President, visibly struggling to find words to express the sorrow and desire to help felt by all present, said she wanted to offer words of hope "like light at the end of a tunnel that at this moment seems endless."

Fighting back tears, Ms. Waters spoke of "the hundreds of children who lost parents on that day," and announced that the Staff Union had established a fund with an initial contribution of $25,000 for the relief effort.

The ceremony closed with the singing of "Amazing Grace" by UN singers as staff members queued up in a long line snaking through the massive hall to donate money to the fund.