The 20th commemoration of the terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003
19 August 2023
Baghdad, 19 August 2023
The Government of Iraq and the United Nations family in Iraq today paid tribute to the victims and families of the 19 August 2003 terrorist attack on the then-UN headquarters in Baghdad. The ceremony was held at the same location of the Canal Hotel, now the Al-Qanat Social Rehabilitation Centre, of the Ministry of Health.
Speeches were delivered at the 20th commemoration of this tragic event; one by SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on behalf of the United Nations, one on behalf of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, delivered by the Deputy of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency Dr. Fouad Hussein, and one by a survivor on behalf of the survivors of the attack.
In her remarks, SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert said that "the past 20 years have brought about change in Iraq. Few would deny that it has been a very rough road. But throughout these years, the United Nations has not given up on its efforts to contribute to peace and stability throughout the country. Today, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to those who are missing colleagues, friends and loved ones not only today, but every day”.
After the speeches, a memorial plaque inscribed with names of the fallen was unveiled by the survivor, a UNAMI staff member, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony. One wreath was laid by the SRSG on behalf of the United Nations; the second wreath was laid on behalf of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, by His Excellency the Deputy of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and the third wreath was laid on behalf of the International Community by His Excellency the Ambassador of Canada, as he is the Ambassador who has been serving for the longest in Iraq among those invited to today’s ceremony.
A minute of silence was observed in honour of the victims of the horrific bombing.
After the official ceremony, diplomats and UN staff filed to the memorial each to place a white rose.
The Ministry of Health and Director of the Al-Qanat Social Rehabilitation Centre provided a briefing of the work of the Centre and a tour on a voluntary basis.
The tragic event of 19 August 2003 profoundly changed the way in which humanitarians operate – from being respected, to being targeted – and led to the creation of World Humanitarian Day. SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert said, “We acknowledge the people across the world who are working – sometimes in the most challenging of circumstances, and at great personal risk – we acknowledge the people who are working to assist those in dire need”.
SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert's full statement is available at the following links on the UNIraq website: