Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday paid tribute to the top United Nations officials who perished in the catastrophic earthquake which struck Haiti on Tuesday, voicing determination that the world body will persevere with its “noble work” in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he was “deeply saddened” to confirm the deaths of his Special Representative to Haiti, Hédi Annabi, as well as his Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa and Acting Police Commissioner Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“In every sense of the word, they gave their lives for peace,” he said.
The Secretary-General characterized Mr. Annabi, of Tunisia, as a “true citizen of the world” for whom the UN was his life.

Having started his career with the world body as a desk officer for Cambodia, he was involved in almost all peacekeeping operations launched over a decade.

“He gave of himself – with energy, discipline and great bravery,” Mr. Ban said, adding that the envoy was the “gold standard of service against which all who had the privilege to work with him were measured.”

He characterized the Tunisian official as a “mild man with the heart of a lion,” recalling his dry sense of humour, integrity and work ethic.

The Special Representative “was proud of the UN mission in Haiti – proud of its accomplishments in bringing stability and hope to Haiti’s people, proud of his UN staff,” Mr. Ban, who will visit the country tomorrow, stressed.

The deputy envoy, Mr. da Costa, a Brazilian, has been a UN peacekeeping legend, the Secretary-General said, noting that his professionalism and dedication were matched only by his charisma, warmth and devotion to his friends.

“Over decades, he brought many of the finest and most talented staff to the United Nations,” mentoring generations of UN staff. “His legacy lives in the thousands that serve under the blue flag in every corner of the globe.” Doug Coates, Acting Police Commissioner, was “a true friend of Haiti and the United Nations,” Mr. Ban said.
He called the police chief “a great police officer who believed to his core in the importance of rule of law and justice.”

The three officials are among other UN officials who lost their lives in the devastating 7.0 magnitude tremors which struck Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, on Tuesday.

“Our hearts are with them, the families and friends of Hédi, Luiz, Doug and the many other UN heroes who gave their lives for Haiti and for the highest ideals of the United Nations,” the Secretary-General said.

“Their dearest wish, I am sure, would be that we carry forward the noble work that they and their colleagues performed so well.”

Source: www.un.org/news, 20100117

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