Press Releases

    1 July 2004

    Secretary-General Remembers Victims of UN Baghdad Headquarters Bombing in Message to Westminster Abbey Thanksgiving Service

    NEW YORK, 30 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom service of thanksgiving and hope to remember those who died serving the United Nations in Iraq and to pray for the future of the Iraqi people, as delivered by Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, London, today, 30 June:

    It will soon be one year since the attack on our Baghdad headquarters, which so cruelly and wastefully ended the lives of 22 people, including some of the bravest and most talented servants the United Nations has ever had.  I send, once again, my deepest condolences to all those who lost their loved ones in this vicious attack. I think particularly today of Fiona Watson, a brave young citizen of the United Kingdom, whose career was so brutally cut short.

    Many others suffered terrible injuries, including Gil Loescher, whose eloquent testimony you will have heard earlier in this service. I salute his courage, and earnestly hope that his remarkable recovery will continue.

    I thank the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom for organizing this service, and the Dean of Westminster for hosting it in this historic church.  It is fitting that you are holding it at a moment when the Iraqi people have just recovered their sovereignty.  Nine of those killed on 19 August were Iraqis, while the others had gone to Iraq for the sole purpose of helping its people rebuild their country and regain their independence under a government of their own choosing.  Today the Iraqi people have resumed sovereignty under an interim government, which the United Nations helped to form.  That government faces a difficult and dangerous task.  I am sure the great majority of Iraqis, and all of you assembled in St. Margaret’s today, will hope that that government is given a real chance to exercise sovereignty.  I hope all concerned will do whatever they can to help it.

    The United Nations is also helping the Iraqi people prepare for elections, through which they can choose a fully representative Constituent Assembly.  Within a very few days I shall name a new Special Representative, to replace my dear friend Sergio Vieira de Mello whom you are remembering today.  Like Sergio, my new Representative will serve in Baghdad.  All possible precautions will be taken to protect him and his small staff.  I ask you to join me in praying for their safety and success, as I join you today in praying for the future of the Iraqi people.

    * *** *