17 September 2001


NEW YORK, 14 September (UN Headquarters) -- "Our host city is deeply wounded. Our host country is in mourning, but its magnificent spirit is not broken", Secretary-General Kofi Annan told United Nations staff this morning at a special meeting to pay tribute to the memory of victims of recent terrorist violence in the United States.

"At the end of this harrowing week, this is where we should be -- together in one room, united as a single family", he continued. He explained that the full dimensions of the tragedy were still unfolding, but there could be no doubt of its enormity, in terms of both the number of lives cut short, and of the chilling ruthlessness with which it was planned and carried out. No cause could justify such acts of terrorism and inhumanity, he stressed.

And, while things could not be said to have returned to normal and everyone was still shaken, staff must carry on with their work, he added. "Our duty, as United Nations staff members, is to persevere." If anything, the week’s events made the Organization’s mission for peace all the more important. "We must confront violence and hatred even more resolutely."

The President of the Staff Committee, Rosemarie Waters, noted the parallel between the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the United Nations -– "full of workers and visitors -- not politicians or soldiers, but workers just like us". Though there would be many opportunities in the coming weeks to express solidarity with those who were suffering, and there were immediate physical needs that had to be met, she said.

In that connection, she announced the establishment of a special solidarity fund for the families of the victims of the 11 September terrorist attack, particularly the children, with an initial donation of $25,000. She encouraged all staff to contribute generously.

She expressed gratitude to all those staff who had come to work in the past few days, particularly essential staff such as General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services and Central Support Services staff.

The United Nations family, she said, reflected New York and was a part of its many communities. Representatives of staff from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean then shared messages of condolences, sympathy and solidarity received from all over the world.

The staff representative of United Nations funds and agencies said New York and New Yorkers were not alone. "Today, we are and remain united. Faced with this horrific tragedy, we stand as one, united in hope, strength and love."

Staff members then observed a minute of silence.

The special meeting opened with a musical interlude and closed with a rendition of "Amazing Grace", performed by members of the United Nations Singers.

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