United Nations staff, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, today paid tribute to colleagues who perished in the line of duty over the past year, at a memorial service at the world body’s headquarters in New York.
“My fervent wish is that an event like this would never be necessary – that all our staff could do their job without facing risks to their lives,” Mr. Ban said. “Yet we know that United Nations peacekeepers and all personnel are increasingly exposed to high risk environments.”
Between 1 November 2011 to 31 August 2012, 29 men and women – civilian, military and police staff members – died across 11 duty stations around the world, representing 16 nationalities. Their deaths were due to malicious acts, natural disasters, accidents at work and other emergencies.
Mr. Ban called on governments to uphold their responsibility to provide security and prosecute those who target UN staff.
“Today is yet another reminder of the dangers and vulnerabilities of those serving around the world to promote the universal goals of the United Nations Charter,” Mr. Ban said. “It is also a moment to take strength and resolve to carry forward the work for which our fallen colleagues gave everything.”
“Let us resolve to continue that vital work in the name and memory of all those we honour today. May the rest in peace and eternity as we carry on their vital mission,” he added.
While ceremonies to honour fallen UN staff are held on an individual basis, last year marked the first time that a ceremony to honour pay tribute to all of them was held.