Statement by Mr. Soren Jessen Petersen, United Nations Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees at the memorial service for the six ICRC colleagues who lost their lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Ruud Lubbers, is travelling in Afghanistan and cannot be here today. He has asked me to share with you his shock, his profound sadness and his outrage at the tragic and senseless deaths of our six ICRC colleagues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On behalf of the High Commissioner – and all of us at UNHCR –
I wish to offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to our friends at ICRC and, most especially, to the families and loved ones of Aduwe Boboli, Julio Delgado, Rita Fox, Jean Molokabonge, Véronique Saro and Unen Ufoirworth. Their loss comes barely a month after our own colleague, Mr. Nsakala Tshiama, was murdered in Kimpese, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Less than a year has passed since we came together to mourn and to protest the brutal killings of four UNHCR staff members in West Timor and Guinea. Many of our colleagues from ICRC stood with us in solidarity on that September day. Now it is our turn to share their sense of loss – and the pain of the families – and say, “You are not alone.” We feel our bonds – to each other and to the cause we serve – most strongly in these moments of tragedy.
But we cannot be satisfied with expressing our sympathy or even our anger and revulsion at the barbarity of these acts. Neither can we surrender to feelings of helplessness in the face of such evil. We must channel our energies into a common effort to demand that host governments, warring parties and the international community uphold their responsibilities to respect and protect our colleagues in the field.
Once again, we are forced to reflect on the fine lines between rewards and sacrifices. The privilege to serve others has enriched each of our lives in remarkable ways. But when we lose colleagues and friends, their families and loved ones are deprived of the love, caring and comfort that is their right. They suffer a loss that will not be overcome and a wound that never truly heals.
In their name also, I say that we can accept no more.
Special memorial ceremony,
Geneva - May 2, 2001.
Gillian Biddulph Ackermann
of our colleagues
April 27, 2001
Chronology of activities
The ICRC in Congo (DRC)