With calls to persevere through adversity, the United Nations held a memorial ceremony in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, today for the staff members who died when its offices there were attacked by a suicide bomber last month.
“At this time of sorrow and loss, let us pledge to honour their sacrifice by continuing to make the UN presence in Nigeria a beacon of peace and hope,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message delivered by UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria Daouda Touré.
Eleven UN staff members and 12 other people died and 116 were injured in the 26 August attack.
“This terrorist attack showed utter disregard for human life,” Mr. Ban said. “It was an assault not just on our premises, but on our values and our work. There can be no justification for such wanton killing and destruction.”
He noted that the 11 UN victims, who came from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), were concerned only with helping Nigeria’s poor and vulnerable, and supporting the country in addressing its varied challenges.
He commended all UN personnel in Nigeria for “the admirable resolve with which you are continuing your work and adapting to the new and more difficult circumstances in which we must now operate.
“Our work is with people, and would suffer if we are confined to a fortress-like environment. Yet our work also depends crucially on safety. That is the conundrum we face; that is the balance we must strive to find,” he added.
“The lives we mourn today personify the deep commitment that characterizes the work of the United Nations in Nigeria and globally.”