|Ban pays tribute to victims in UN Baghdad headquarters attack
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday laid a wreath here to pay tribute to the UN staff killed in the terrorist attack on the Canal Hotel, the then-UN headquarters in Iraq, ten years back.
The commemoration was carried out to mark the World Humanitarian Day, which fell on Monday, Xinhua news agency reports.
"Ten years ago, 22 servants of peace, 22 cherished colleagues, 22 sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, were killed in the worst terrorist attack the United Nations has ever experienced," Ban said at the ceremony in honor of the UN fallen staffs. "They showed the United Nations at its best."
"Our blue flag may be tattered at times," Ban said, saluting all humanitarian workers who made the ultimate sacrifice for peace.
The UN chief also said that these attacks were not only on the UN, but they were also attacks on the people the world body serves. "Our colleagues have lost their lives, but their spirit to help others lives on -- at our ceremony today, and throughout the year."
The organization has learned from the attack in Iraq and is endeavoring to improve safety and security measures, putting new emphasis on training, and doing more to address the needs of the injured and families of the victims, Ban said.
Ban said challenge remains as they must do their essential work while reducing risk and holding governments to account in supporting their efforts.
Violent attacks still are common in Iraq despite a dramatic decrease in violence since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.
This year saw increasing violence in Iraq. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said 761 Iraqis were killed and another 1,771 were injured in violent attacks in June.
Nonetheless, the UN remains active in Iraq, working on issues such as elections, national reconciliation and Syrian refugees.
Over past ten years, a total of 556 UN-related staff and contractors were attacked, according to latest statistics released in mid-August by the Aid worker Security Database.
World Humanitarian Day, observed on Aug. 19 each year, is a special day dedicated to commemorate the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003, which claimed the lives of 22 UN staff members, including the world body's top envoy to the Middle Eastern country, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and injured more than 150 others.