27 May 2010

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in Rio de Janeiro, Unveils Commemorative Plaque


in Honour of Brazilian Peacekeepers Killed in Haiti Earthquake


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Brazilian Haiti Peacekeeping Commemoration, as prepared for delivery, in Rio de Janeiro, today, 27 May:

Meu coração está transbordando — transbordando de tristeza, gratidão e respeito.  (My heart is full — full of sorrow, gratitude, respect.)  For me, this is a deep and personal privilege.  I wanted to be here with you, with the families of our United Nations mission, so that I could thank you and the people of Brazil for your sacrifice.

The plaque we unveil today will be placed at the Sergio Vieira de Mello Peacekeeping Centre, yet another reminder of Brazil’s devotion to the United Nations and its noble mission.

Luiz Carlos da Costa served with no less distinction.  I had the honour to accompany his body back to New York from Haiti. It was one of the saddest moments of my life.

Those who lost their lives did so pursuing a dream:  helping others.  They were your sons and brothers.  But through their work, their mission, they became our sons and brothers, too. 

You are justly proud of them.  So am I.  I saw the difference they made.  They built bridges and roads, distributed food, won the trust of the community in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Haiti.

At one of the funerals, hundreds of people wore a T-shirt that said it all:  "Haiti — more than a mission, an act of solidarity."  And so it was.

The flag of the United Nations has a special meaning for me, growing up in Korea after the war.  My country was destroyed; my village was rubble.

The men and women of the United Nations came to the rescue.  They carried that flag and made it a symbol of a better day.

That is what your sons did for the people of Haiti.  They turned the flag of the United Nations into a banner of hope.  Hope in action.  That is their legacy. 

They gave everything for the country of Brazil, for the people of Haiti, for the work of the United Nations.  We will never forget.

Our hearts remain with you all.  The United Nations organization is deeply grateful for the enormous sacrifices made by the Brazilian population. Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record