Canal Hotel Bombing Commemoration - World Humanitarian Day - International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
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Remarks by SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
Baghdad, 19 August 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues, Friends,
We have gathered today in sombre commemoration of a tragic occasion. Eighteen years ago, on 19 August 2003, a massive explosion tore apart the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Twenty-two of our colleagues and friends were killed in this appalling attack. More than a hundred people were injured.
A number of survivors of the Canal Hotel bombing are here with us today. Despite the horrors of that day and the many catastrophes that have befallen Iraq since, these colleagues remain committed to playing a role in building a peaceful and stable future for their country. I salute their courage and resilience.
Although the attack on the Canal Hotel targeted the humanitarian community, ordinary Iraqis were not spared either: the attack was only a prelude to the terror that would engulf Iraq and claim countless victims in the following years. Today, we are therefore not only observing World Humanitarian Day, but are paying tribute to all victims of terrorism.
In Iraq, as well as in other parts of the globe, we continue to witness vicious threats and assaults against innocent civilians, humanitarian workers, healthcare professionals, civil society actors, the staff of international organisations; countless brave women and men who put themselves in considerable danger to assist individuals and communities affected by conflict and disasters. Those most vulnerable are often affected by more than one crisis, and are now also facing climate disasters and pandemics. Iraq is no exception to that. This World Humanitarian Day draws attention to the climate emergency that is wreaking havoc across the globe at a scale that is pushing the humanitarian community to its limits. The UN therefore calls on all governments to urgently tackle the most pressing environmental disasters that have exacerbated humanitarian crises and fuelled conflicts.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that I am honoured to be standing here with you today to remember the sacrifices of our twenty-two colleagues, fallen in the service of peace and stability in Iraq. We pay tribute to them, to everyone who lost their lives serving humanity, and to all victims of terror. May our continuing commitment to peace and justice be their legacy.