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Secretary-General Calls Fallen Staff ‘Unsung Heroes’, in Wreath-Laying Ceremony Marking 2011 Terrorist Attack on Nigeria’s United Nations House

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the wreath‑laying ceremony at the United Nations House, in Abuja, Nigeria, today

26 August 2011 is a date that is burned into the collective memory of our United Nations family.  On that tragic day, an appalling terrorist attack on the United Nations House left 23 United Nations employees and civilians dead, and more than 60 injured.

Those staff members who lost their lives were unsung heroes who proudly served Nigerians through our Organization’s work.  Clerks, receptionists and drivers.  A national professional officer and an associate expert.  A monitoring and evaluation specialist.  A shipping assistant.

They worked for organizations that continue to support Nigerians — UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], WHO [World Health Organization], UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund], UNAIDS [Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS] and UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime].

But, they were also mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers, sisters and cherished friends.  All but one were Nigerian nationals.

Today, we mark their tragic deaths on that dark day.  But, we also celebrate the light and joy they brought to their colleagues and loved ones.  And the inspiration they continue to provide as we carry their vital mission forward, more than 10 years on.  We will never forget them.

Today, the United Nations family stands in solidarity with the victims’ families, as well as the women and men who work at the United Nations House every day, to serve and support the people of Nigeria.

And we stand in solidarity with all Nigerians who have endured similar violence in their own communities.  In our victim-centred approach, perpetrators must be held accountable.  We remain steadfast in our commitment to support a peaceful Nigeria for all people.  And I thank the Government of Nigeria for its support in repairing this House, which has enabled our staff to return here.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.