Top United Nations officials today urged for the protection of children from the scourges of war during a Holocaust remembrance service to honour the memory of the estimated six million Jews and countless others killed in the Nazi death camps during the Second World War.
“One and a half million Jewish children perished,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his remarks to the congregation of the Park East Synagogue in New York. “Tens of thousands of others were murdered, including people with disabilities, as well as Roma and Sinti.
“Many died of starvation or disease. Many others were orphaned by the war, or ripped away from their families. We will never know what these boys and girls might have contributed to our world. And many survivors were too shattered to tell their stories. Today, we seek to give voice to those accounts,” Mr. Ban said.
“Children are uniquely vulnerable to the worst of humankind. We must show them the best this world has to offer,” he added.
President of the General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser echoed Mr. Ban's remarks and urged countries to protect the rights of those most vulnerable regardless of race, colour, sex or religious beliefs.
Mr. Al-Nasser stressed that the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, observed each year on 27 January, ensures that “the Holocaust will forever remain, in our time and for future generations, a warning to all people about the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.”
Mr. Al-Nasser also underscored the critical need to establish dialogue among various faiths to ensure widespread peace and stability.
“As part of our efforts to build peace, we focus on what brings us together: our shared humanity,” he said. “Initiatives that enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation – that turn words into action – are the way forward.”
Next week, the UN will remember the children who perished during the Holocaust with a week of events culminating in a memorial ceremony to be held in the General Assembly Hall in New York on Friday.
The events include film screenings, exhibits and talks, as well as the launch of a website offering videos and testimonials from over a thousand Holocaust survivors, as well as educational tools and resources for students and teachers.