UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie yesterday delivered a lecture for the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation, which honors the memory and work of the UNHCR staff member and diplomat, who was killed in Iraq in 2003 when the United Nations office in Baghdad was bombed by terrorists.
“We are here in memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello and the 21 other men and women, most of them UN workers, who died with him in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003,” she said. "We remember all those who died, to acknowledge each valuable life cut short, and the families who share, even today, in their sacrifice.
“We also remember them for the power of the example they set: brave individuals from 11 different countries, working to help Iraqi people, at the direction of the United Nations Security Council, and on behalf of us all.
“This is sometimes forgotten: that in serving under the UN flag they died in our names, as our representatives.
“As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, as we live through the gravest refugee crisis since the founding of the United Nations, as 20 million people are on the brink of death from starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, I cannot imagine that there is anyone in the leadership of the United Nations who would not welcome the opportunity to consult Sergio, or send him into the field once more. He is truly missed, even today.
“We can’t all be Sergios. But I hope all of us can determine that we shall be a generation that renews its commitment to “unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”, and “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”
“But in the final analysis, even if we do not, even if that level of vision eludes us and we continue to simply manage rather than to try to overcome our generation’s challenges, we have to keep working determinedly and patiently.
“And you can be certain, as you do, that you follow the example of one of the UN’s finest sons: and that to do even a little of his good, to apply ourselves to the work he left unfinished, in whatever way we can, is a worthy task for any one of us.”
To read Angelina’s full speech, click here.