Kofi Annan: The UN itself is now a target of political violence

From a speech by the Secretary General at the United Nations' European headquarters in Geneva

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What happened in Baghdad a year ago today was a personal tragedy - above all for the families and loved ones of the 22 people who died and those who suffered severe injuries, be they physical, psychological or emotional. It was also a personal tragedy for each and every one of us, because of the dear friends and close colleagues we lost, and because of the direct attack against the blue flag and we who have devoted our lives to the United Nations.

What happened in Baghdad a year ago today was a personal tragedy - above all for the families and loved ones of the 22 people who died and those who suffered severe injuries, be they physical, psychological or emotional. It was also a personal tragedy for each and every one of us, because of the dear friends and close colleagues we lost, and because of the direct attack against the blue flag and we who have devoted our lives to the United Nations.

We are no strangers to violence and intimidation. But the attack on the Canal Hotel was a unique blow for us as an organisation. It brought us face to face with danger in a new and more intimidating form - the danger that we, servants of the UN, will no longer be victims simply by virtue of the times and places in which we are called to serve, but may have become in ourselves one of the main targets of political violence.

I know that the past year has been a difficult one for each and every one of us. For me, the past year has been not only difficult, but also deeply introspective. Earlier, we had lived through a war that I genuinely thought could have been avoided. Then I lost 22 wonderful, talented friends and colleagues whom I had sent to Iraq to help deal with the aftermath of that war, to help bring stability and peace. Their mission was cut short when they were brutally and viciously taken away from us.

Their faces are constantly in my mind's eye. I don't think anyone could ever fully know the impact these tragic events had on me. They touched me to the core.

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