Global perspective Human stories

Stunned by destruction at site of attack, Annan says all of UN is with New York

Stunned by destruction at site of attack, Annan says all of UN is with New York

Pataki, Annan and Giuliani at 'ground zero'
Expressing his shock at the magnitude of the destruction that he witnessed at the site of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said New Yorkers had the full support, sympathy and admiration of the UN.

"Let's not forget, the UN is also a New York institution and all the Ambassadors and the staff are rooting for you just as their governments around the world are," said the Secretary-General.

Speaking to reporters during a joint press encounter with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York State Governor George Pataki, the Secretary-General said the devastation was much more severe than he had imagined: "I don't think any of the television pictures or the pictures we have seen on the front of newspapers give you an idea of the magnitude and horror which is now here at 'ground zero' and the 5,000 people missing, each with his own story that we may never hear."

Annan thanks rescue workers

"I've been very happy to have the opportunity to tell the firemen and the policemen and all the health workers how much we admire and appreciate the work that they've done," said Mr. Annan. He also thanked the Mayor and Governor for their leadership and applauded "what they have done for this City and the way they have pulled all of us together."

Giuliani, Annan embrace at attack site

Mr. Annan stressed that the attack did not just target New York or the United States, but instead was a strike against the world. "That's why we all need to come together to fight" terrorism, he said. Asked what countries might do in response, the Secretary-General said governments and leaders wanted to defeat terrorism.

"Some have voiced a word of caution that the horror has united us and our response should not divide us," he said, adding. "I don't think any one of them is going to give an inch for terrorism, but we need to stand together."

Earlier in the day, Mr. Annan attended a Jewish religious service at a local temple, where he said last week's terrorist attacks against the United States must give rise to a shared sense of purpose, not divisiveness.

"This tragedy has united us - we must not let it's aftermath divide us," Mr. Annan told the assembled gathering at Temple Emanu-el. "Let us take care not to blame an entire people, an entire region, or an entire religion for the unspeakable acts of a few individuals."

The Secretary-General described the sense of shock and helplessness which followed last Tuesday's attacks. "We are astonished by the evil in our midst, stunned at the scale of the tragedy, dazed by the disregard for human life, overwhelmed by the wound that has been inflicted - on this city, on this country, on us all," he said.

In the aftermath of such a calamity, he noted, "a service like this one - where people of many faiths come together in tolerance, togetherness and prayer - is not just welcome, it is vital."

Mr. Annan also pointed out that the response had shown humanity's strengths, including "the nobility of the human spirit that this disaster has revealed; the extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice shown by the firemen, the police, the health workers and all the others who have given, or risked, their lives; the generosity and goodwill poured out by the entire community; and the solidarity expressed around the world by people of all nations and their governments."