31 July 2006

World Must Honour Fallen Peacekeepers by Ending Death, Destruction as soon as Possible, Says Secretary-General in Message to Jerusalem Memorial Service

NEW YORK, 30 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to a memorial service for the United Nations Military Observers who lost their lives at Patrol Base Khiyam on 25 July 2006, delivered by Alvaro de Soto, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in Jerusalem on 30 July:

It is with great pain and sorrow that I send this message to all who have gathered at UNTSO Headquarters -- Government House in Jerusalem -- to pay tribute to the United Nations Military Observers -- Du Zhaoyu, Paeta Hess-Von Kruedener, Hans-Peter Lang and Jarno Makinen -- who lost their lives at Patrol Base Khiyam, in southern Lebanon, on 25 July 2006.

The men we lost last Tuesday came from different nations, but worked together to carry out the difficult mission entrusted to them by the United Nations.  They were also fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, friends and colleagues.  They died at their post.  All of us, their colleagues, must mourn them deeply, but must also be proud of their example.  The United Nations will be forever in their debt.

Our fallen colleagues join 44 of their predecessors who gave their lives serving in UNTSO, together with 259 men and women who have died serving in UNIFIL -- including, I fear, the civilian staff member and his spouse who remain officially unaccounted for in Tyre since 17 July -- and 42 men and women who have died serving in UNDOF.  This list is a reminder of the supreme sacrifice made by people from many nations who have laid down their lives in the Middle East serving the cause of peace, under the blue flag of the United Nations.

The men who died on Tuesday at Patrol Base Khiyam were the eyes of the world, reporting in detail about military and militia actions in southern Lebanon, the most dangerous theatre of a conflict that has now engulfed the whole country, as well as a large part of northern Israel.

Many questions surround the tragic deaths of these unarmed peacekeepers, and these must be answered.  That will not bring them back to their loved ones, but it will help us to better ensure the safety of other peacekeepers, now and in the future.  Meanwhile, we must honour their work by ensuring that the death and destruction come to an end as soon as possible, and by bringing help to all those whose lives are being torn apart.

May these brave men rest in peace.  May their bereaved families find solace in the noble cause for which they died.  May the nations who sent them here be proud of their men and women in uniform.  And may their colleagues find, in their supreme sacrifice, the courage and determination to continue serving the cause of peace in the Middle East, and around the world.

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