At least 23 persons who died, and more than 60 others injured in the August 26, 2011 Boko Haram attack on the United Nations building in Abuja are unsung heroes, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has said.
Mr Guterres said this on Wednesday in Abuja during his two-day formal first visit to Nigeria since his appointment.
He said: “August 26, 2011, is a date that is burnt into the collective memory of the UN family. On that tragic, a bomb terrorist attack on the 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 Nigeria through our organisation’s work.
“They worked for organisations that continue to support Nigerians. UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNODC.
“But they are also mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and cherished friends. All but one were Nigerian nationals and today we mark their tragic death from that dark day.”
Since the Boko Haram insurgency began in around 2009, the terrorist organisation, which started as a pressure group, has continued to wreak havoc in the North-eastern part of the country, with its breakaway factions also reported to be contributing to the banditry ravaging the North-west and the North-central.
Over 20,000 people, including civilians and security personnel were said to have died in the insurgency-associated attacks while approximately 8.4 million people were said to have been displaced in the three most affected states- Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.
A bomb blast attributed to Boko Haram at the United Nations building in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, killed over 20 people and injured 60 others on August 26, 2011.
Paying tributes to the victims, Mr Guterres said the United Nations family stands in sympathy with their families, as well as the women and men who worked at the UN House everyday to serve and support the Nigerian people.
Demand for justice
He also demanded that the perpetrators of the bombing attack on the UN House be brought to justice.
He said: “And we stand in solidarity with all Nigerians whether enduring similar violence in their own communities.
“In our victim-centred 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 repairing this house which has allowed our staff to return here.”
Earlier, the minister for women affairs, Pauline Tallen, who led delegates to meet with Mr Guterres, discussed gender equality and women’s participation in politics in Nigeria.
“His coming to Nigeria today has given us hope because we know that he will lend his voice to all the issues affecting women, gender-based violence, early marriage, lack of implementation of some of our laws,” she said.
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