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21 August 2019

Secretary-General, at ‘Surviving Terrorism’ Photo Exhibition, Stresses Need to Ensure Plight of Victims No Longer Forgotten

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the opening of the photographic exhibition Surviving Terrorism:  The Power of Resilience, in New York today:

I am pleased to welcome you to the second International Day of Remembrance of — and Tribute to — the Victims of Terrorism.

The threat of terrorism and violent extremism is among our most complex challenges.  In recent months, we have witnessed horrific attacks in Kabul and Cairo, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, and other locations around the Lake Chad Basin and around the world.

Many innocent lives have been tragically cut short.  My deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims of the Kabul attack last week, their lives tragically taken as they celebrated life at a wedding.  My thoughts are with them and with all the victims and survivors of such ruthless atrocities, which cause lasting damage to families, communities and nations as a whole.

I met with survivors of terrorist attacks earlier this year and was deeply moved by their courage and resilience.  Their message was clear and simple.  People and communities need to become closer to grow stronger.  Let us turn these harrowing experiences into powerful and positive forces for change.

This is a lesson for us all.  Traumatic memories cannot be erased, but we can help victims and survivors by seeking truth and justice, lifting their voices and upholding their dignity.  We must do more to support victims and survivors of terrorism so they can rebuild their lives and heal.  This means partnering with civil society and community organizations that do excellent work in this area.

By building on the efforts of the General Assembly to enhance international cooperation and by working closely with the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism, we can find innovative ways to support victims’ rights to justice, reparations, healing and livelihoods.  I thank the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan and Spain for their vision and leadership in establishing this Group of Friends, and for bringing this issue to the forefront of the global counter‑terrorism agenda.

Next year, the United Nations will build on this momentum and host a Congress of Victims of Terrorism.  It will be a unique opportunity to listen to people from around the world and strengthen our collective resolve to be impactful.  As you hear the voices of those who are with us today and read the stories accompanying the photo exhibition, I hope you are as inspired as I am by their remarkable resilience.

We must be equally steadfast in our pursuit of solutions and be guided by the voices of victims and survivors in all our efforts.  Let this moment be one of reflection, recognition and action.  Let us do everything we can to ensure that the plight of victims of terrorism is no longer a forgotten one.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.