9 February 2001


NEW YORK, 8 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan' address at a memorial service today at United Nations Headquarters for United Nations staff members killed on mission in Mongolia:

We come together today to mourn the loss of courageous and irreplaceable colleagues. They gave life to the words "humanitarian imperative" -- and in doing so, gave their own lives. In our memory, they will live on.

We pay tribute to Sabine and Gerard of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Matthew of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Bayarmaa of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who died in a helicopter crash while carrying out a humanitarian assessment mission in northern Mongolia. Let us also remember those who died with them: three Mongolians -- a Member of Parliament, a photographer and a helicopter technician -- and two Japanese journalists. And let us pray for the speedy recovery of those injured in the crash.

Today, our thoughts and prayers go out, first and foremost, to the victims' families and loved ones, some of whom are here with us today. We cannot know all that you are going through, but we want you to know that your hurt is shared by many, many people -- in the United Nations family which these colleagues honoured with such distinction; and in the communities in need which they served with such dedication.

Their deaths have shown us, yet again, that the members of the humanitarian family are a breed apart. They feel their duty to help those in need more deeply than they fear for their own safety. Their actions allow millions of people to hope, in the midst of hardship, that something called the international community will uphold the basic dignity of humankind.

That hope is kept alive every day by men and women who -- like those we mourn today -- are willing to risk their own lives to improve the lives of others. While our colleagues have made the supreme sacrifice, others continue with the same work -- no matter how great the risk; no matter how small the material reward; sometimes with only faith and hope to sustain them.

We owe it to our fallen colleagues and to their loved ones to ensure that their work is carried on. May that be the way they live on in our memory. May their humanitarian imperative live on as their legacy to us. May their souls rest in the peace -- the peace they so richly deserve.

I would now like to invite you to observe a minute of silence in the memory of Sabine, Gerard, Matthew, Bayarmaa, and those who died with them.

* * * * *