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Remember the Fallen

On Friday, 17 August 2018 at 9:30 am the United Nations Staff Union is holding a solemn wreath-laying ceremony with the participation of the Secretary-General, by the Memorial Wall of the General Assembly Lobby, to mark the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters at Canal Hotel, Baghdad, where 22 staff members lost their lives.

Serving the cause of peace in a violent world is a dangerous occupation.  Since the founding of the United Nations, more than 3,500 brave men and women have lost their lives in its service.

Ole Bakke, a Norwegian serving in Palestine, was the first – gunned down in July 1948.  Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, UN Mediator in Palestine, was the second – assassinated two months later. 

The UN’s leadership was cut down in 1961, when Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, along with 15 others, died in a plane crash in the Congo while seeking peace. 

Three decades later, the growing number and scale of UN peacekeeping missions put many more at risk. More lives were lost during the 1990s than in the previous 4 decades combined.

In the new millennium, the UN itself became a target: its premises attacked in Baghdad in 2003, Algiers in 2007, and Kabul in 2009.   

During the past four years (2013 – 2017) a consistent increase in peacekeeper fatalities due to violent acts resulted in 195 deaths.

“The greatest tribute we can pay to those who have died is to rededicate ourselves to continuing their work to build and maintain peace. They are the best of all of us and we must always pay tribute to their sacrifice that is a demonstration of the courage and generosity that the United Nations needs to present in today’s world.”

Secretary-General António Guterres
Remarks at the Wreath-laying Ceremony
honouring fallen Peacekeepers
24 May 2017

Natural disasters also claim the lives of those serving the UN.  The Haiti earthquake in 2010 resulted in 102 deaths, the largest single loss in its history.

Here we remember those often forgotten – those who have died in the service of the United Nations – the fallen.

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