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Remember the Fallen

On 19 August, World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations Staff Union will host a wreath-laying ceremony in remembrance of the UN personnel who lost their lives in the bombing of the Canal Hotel, Baghdad, Iraq. The event will take place on Monday at 10:00 am by the Memorial Wall in the Visitors Lobby. The Deputy Secretary General and the President of the Staff Union will deliver brief remarks.

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.   

From 2013 to 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.