|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at Ceremony to Honour United Nations Genocide Victims,
Pledges Never to Abandon Staff with Lives under Threat
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the ceremony honouring United Nations staff victims of the Rwanda genocide, in Kigali today:
Today has been a profoundly moving day of reflection, remembrance and renewal for the people of Rwanda and, indeed, the international community. We have mourned the loss of so many members of our larger human family. Now we gather together to pay tribute to the fallen members of the United Nations family. We honour our colleagues and offer our deepest condolences to all those they left behind.
Twenty years may seem a long time to some, but I know that it may feel like just yesterday when you last saw their smile, or heard their laugh, or felt their warm embrace. I know you will never forget them. This memorial is designed to ensure that they will never be forgotten by the United Nations. Their names and memories will always be here, as they will in your hearts.
The victims we honour were from all parts of the country. They represented many different parts of the United Nations family. They were of all ages, including so many young people looking forward to a bright career ahead of them. They served the United Nations because they wanted to build a better Rwanda and a better future.
The world was stunned by the scale and ferocity of the violence. But that same world fell woefully short in helping to stem the killings and in heeding the clear warning signs that were visible for months as tensions rose, deadly plans were hatched and guns and machetes were distributed. The numbers still shock: an average of 10,000 deaths per day, day after day, for 100 days, Rwandans killing Rwandans.
We honour their lives through remembrance and reflection, but also through doing everything that we can to improve protection, response and safeguarding populations from genocide and other atrocities. As a matter of policy, we are committed to staying on the ground in times of trouble and never abandoning staff when lives are threatened. We stick together, we stay together. That is our pledge to Rwanda and the world.
I understand that Rwandans join forces once a month to care for their communities. This tradition dates back well before the genocide. But in the aftermath of national trauma, the spirit of umuganda has helped the country come together in common cause to build a new Rwanda, a tolerant Rwanda, a Rwanda of shared culture, traditions and peace. Let us draw on your spirit of umuganda — and on the memory of our lost colleagues — and build a better world for all.
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