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World Humanitarian Day: UN and Italy memorialize Vieira De Mello and the other victims of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad

NEW YORK, AUGUST 18 – The United Nations on Friday paid tribute to 22 staff members killed in the bombing of its headquarters in Iraq 20 years ago, one of the darkest days in the Organization’s history.  Ahead of the 20th World Humanitarian Day, the UN Under Secretary-General Atul Khare led a remembrance ceremony at UN Headquarters, in front of the UN flag that flew on top of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, which is now displayed in the General Assembly visitors’ lobby. Twenty years ago, on August 19 2003, the UN envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 of his colleagues lost their lives were killed in the bombing of the hotel which served as the UN Headquarters in the Iraqi capital.

In his message for the day, the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “this tragedy marked a change in the way humanitarians operate”, adding that this year, global humanitarian operations aim to get life-saving aid to 250 million people in 69 countries – ten times more than at the time of the bombing. He saluted the courage and dedication of humanitarian aid workers everywhere.

“Today we remember those 22 colleagues who were killed, and we honour all those who survived that horrific attack – many of whom returned to humanitarian work, some even returned to Iraq to continue to serve the Iraqi people under the auspices of the United Nations. In the words of Kofi Annan – and today marks the fifth anniversary of his passing: ‘The service of the United Nations is not simply a job. It is a calling, and those who have attacked us will not deflect us from it,'” the Un Spokeperson Stephane Dujarric said, after reading the names of the victims: Saad Hermiz Abona, Reham Al-Farra, Emaad Ahmed Salman Al-Jobory, Raid Shaker Mustafa Al-Mahdawi, Omar Kahtan Mohamed Al-Orfali, Leen Assad Al-Quadi, Ranilo Buenaventura, Gillian Clark, Manuel Martin-Oar Fernandez-Heredia, Arthur Helton, Rick Hooper, Reza Hosseini, Ihssan Taha Husain, Jean-Selim Kanaan, Christopher Klein-Beekman, Khidir Saleem Sahir, Alya Ahmad Sousa, Martha Teas, Basim Mahmood Utaiwi, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Fiona Watson and Nadia Younes.

Among the ten top 2023 donors to UNCERF (UN Central Emergency Response Fund) and one of the strongest partners of OCHA, Italy confirmed today its support to humanitarian workers around the world and its resolve to tackling the root causes of humanitarian crises and finding long-term solutions. In a message on X (formerly Twitter) the Italian Mission to the UN saluted and honored all of the humanitarian workers, who continue to be targeted around the world, paying respect to their dedication. (@OnuItalia)


Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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