7 July 2004
Secretary-General Mourns Loss of Sierra Leone Mission Personnel in Helicopter Crash on 29 June
NEW YORK, 6 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the ceremony in honour of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi members of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) who perished in the helicopter crash on 29 June, delivered by Major-General Patrick Cammaert, Military Advisor, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in Sierra Leone on 4 July:
Today, we mourn fifteen colleagues and friends who died in the service of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone. Their deaths are a terrible loss to their families, and a heavy blow to all the devoted United Nations staff -- soldiers and civilians alike -- who are working in Sierra Leone. This tragedy has been a blow to Sierra Leone itself, to Pakistan and Bangladesh, and to the
United Nations. We are joined together in our grief.
Those we lost were part of a proud tradition of service by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to the United Nations. Nearly 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers from these nations are today helping to bring stability to war-torn lands and safety to war-weary people, not only here in Sierra Leone, but in Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Liberia, Timor Leste, Côte dIvoire and Georgia. In all these lands, ordinary men, women and children are deeply grateful to the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who came to help them in their hour of need. I am confident that the people of Sierra Leone will always remember the sacrifice of the brave men we mourn today.
We lost our colleagues before their work was done. The mission they served has already made great strides in setting Sierra Leone on the path of peace and respect for human rights. Each one of them made a vital contribution to that progress. The colleagues they left behind will carry that work forward, and they will complete it. Those we lost will find a fitting tribute in a Sierra Leone whose citizens can live free from fear and hopeful for a better future.
These men were not only peacekeepers. They were husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and friends. My thoughts are with their families and close friends, to whom I send my deepest condolences. I hope that their pain is one day eased by the knowledge that their loved ones gave their lives for a noble cause, serving people in need under the blue flag of the United Nations. They died, as they lived, as soldiers of peace. They will rest with honour in their homeland. May they rest in peace.
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