STAFF SAFETY ‘IS MY FOREMOST CONCERN’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ON DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED, MISSING STAFF MEMBERS

25 March 2004
SG/SM/9221-OBV/414-ORG/1409

STAFF SAFETY ‘IS MY FOREMOST CONCERN’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ON DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED, MISSING STAFF MEMBERS

25/03/2004
Press ReleaseSG/SM/9221 OBV/414 ORG/1409

STAFF SAFETY ‘IS MY FOREMOST CONCERN’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ON DAY

OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED, MISSING STAFF MEMBERS

Following is the text of remarks today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members:

Mrs. Collett, the establishment of this day of solidarity was originally inspired by the sad case of your husband.  His fate is still unknown.  Today we reaffirm once again our solidarity with you, and our horror at what you have gone through these many years –- fearing and perhaps resigned to the worst, yet perpetually in a state of not knowing –- wondering, doubting, and it goes on.  I would like to thank you for everything you have done over the years to raise awareness of Alec’s case of the risks that so many United Nations staff and members of the press face around the world.

Indeed, the dangers faced by Alec continue to be faced throughout the world by United Nations personnel, and by our colleagues in the press and the non-governmental organization community.  Wanting only to do their jobs, and to be of service, they find themselves arrested, detained, taken hostage, “disappeared” –- or worse.

That is unacceptable.  We have been trying our utmost to ensure that they can do their work in safety –- as far as that is possible.  That means physical and legal protections.  It means better preparedness.  And it means constantly reminding governments of their responsibilities.

Feelings at the United Nations on this subject are especially raw, given last year’s horrific attack in Baghdad.  We are still coming to terms with the implications of that tragedy, and I would like to take this occasion to assure all staff that their safety is my foremost concern.

In closing, let me thank the Staff Council for its ongoing efforts to draw attention to this issue.

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For information media. Not an official record.