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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Overview of Friday's town hall meeting on staff security
30 October 2009 / 03:24

[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]

Moment of silence | Credit: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras (419050) Staff in New York gathered in the Trusteeship Council Chamber on Friday, 30 October 2009 to pay tribute to five colleagues killed in Kabul on Wednesday, 28 October. 

Participating via videoconference were staff in Geneva, Haiti, Santiago and Vienna.

During the meeting, the Secretary-General read the names of those killed:

Jossie Esto, a Philippina who worked for the UN Development Programme election team;

Lewis Maxwell, a close protection officer from the United States;

Laurance Mefful, a UN security officer from Ghana; and

Lydia Wonwene, a UNDP elections officer from Liberia.

The identity of one other person has not been confirmed.

The Secretary-General went on to express condolences to the families of those killed and led staff in a moment of silence in their memory.

SG with Mrs. Emma Meffel and her daughter | Credit: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras (419052) The widow of Mr. Mefful, Emma, was invited to the podium and received a standing ovation from those in attendance after her moving remarks.  Also attending was one of Mr. Mefful's daughters and other family members.

The Secretary-General lauded the efforts of security officers on the scene as well as those working all over the world, saying, "Their actions saved lives – many, many lives.  I am so grateful for their courage and sacrifice. Colleagues: Too often, we take our security for granted.  In the coming days, I urge you to recognize those who ensure our safety, here at headquarters and abroad. Take a moment.  Say thank you."

He also paid tribute to the UN System staff serving in Afghanistan noting that "They labour, under very difficult circumstances, to help build better lives for the Afghan people.  We are with you.  You are in our thoughts and prayers, and your safety and security are paramount in our minds."

The Secretary-General also said, "It is essential that we take stock of the changing security situation and appropriately respond" and went on to lay out steps being taken which include asking the General Assembly for rapid action on the security budget.

"Finally, let me say that we truly are a family – an extraordinary UN family. Our work is not just what we do.  It is who we are.  An attack on any of us hurts me…deeply.  I know it hurts you, too. So let us remember.  Let us honour.  And let us continue," the Secretary-General concluded.

Under-Secretary-General for Management Angela Kane, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Helen Clark, and UNICEF Executive Director Anne Veneman also addressed attendees.

Also in attendance were Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar, and Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security Gregory Starr.