04 May 2022

Secretary-General's remarks at Wreath-Laying Ceremony at UN House in Abuja, Nigeria

António Guterres

Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, honoured guests and family members.

August 26, 2011 is a date that is burned into the collective memory of our UN family.

On that tragic day, an appalling terrorist attack on UN House left 23 UN employees and civilians dead, and more than 60 injured.

Those staff members who lost their lives were unsung heroes who proudly served Nigerians through our organization’s work.

Clerks, receptionists and drivers.

A national professional officer and an associate expert.

A monitoring and evaluation specialist.

A shipping assistant.

They worked for organizations that continue to support Nigerians — UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNODC.

But they were also mothers and fathers.

Sons and daughters.

Brothers, sisters and cherished friends.

All but one were Nigerian nationals.

Today, we mark their tragic deaths on that dark day.

But we also celebrate the light and joy they brought to their colleagues and loved ones.

And the inspiration they continue to provide as we carry their vital mission forward, more than 10 years on.

We will never forget them.

Today, the UN family stands in solidarity with the victims’ families, as well as the women and men who work at UN House every day, to serve and support the people of Nigeria.

And we stand in solidarity with all Nigerians who have endured similar violence in their own communities.

In our victim-centered approach, perpetrators must be held accountable. 

We remain steadfast in our commitment to support a peaceful Nigeria for all people. 

And I thank the Government of Nigeria for its support in repairing this House, which has enabled our staff to return here.

Thank you.