By Cecilia Ologunagba
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Friday paid tribute to the victims and survivors of terrorism from New York to Baghdad to the frontlines of conflict in Africa’s Sahel region.
Associate spokeswoman for Secretary-General, Eri Kaneko, said this while briefing correspondents at the UN headquarters in New York.
According to her, the secretary-general spoke at the High-Level Event to Commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the victims of terrorism.
The UN General Assembly had designated Aug. 21 as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the victims of terrorism in order to honour and support them.
The 2021 Remembrance Day comes as the world prepares to mark 20 years since terrorists attacked New York and Washington, DC murdering 3,000 people and leaving countless others injured amid the debris and as eyes turn to the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.
“On this Day, we remember and honour the individuals, families, communities and societies that have been traumatised by terrorist acts.
“The secretary-general said focusing on connections is particularly important in the current pandemic environment, which restricts our movements and limits our ability to see loved ones.
“Today, we say to all victims and survivors of terrorism; you are not alone. We recognise your pain and the invaluable benefits of support, care, and connection for your mental and physical health and well-being,” Kaneko quoted Guterres as saying.
Guterres emphasised that remembrance meant not only honouring those who had lost their lives, but also looking forward to better understand the global community’s common responsibility to prevent future terrorist attacks.
He outlined ways the UN was working to keep people safe and defused terrorists’ narratives, including by tackling conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and supporting efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.
In June, the second High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism concluded amid calls for redoubled attention to terrorism’s increasingly sophisticated response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since , we have seen terrorism take new and previously unthinkable forms, killing and maiming many thousands more around the world, destroying families and upending societies,” he said.
In addition, he said violent religious and political extremism, xenophobia and racism had further added to the toll.
Recognising the loneliness and isolation experienced by many survivors and families affected by terrorism, he said the COVID-19 pandemic and related movement restrictions had further limited their ability to connect with loved ones.
In some cases, the pandemic has also resulted in loss of essential resources needed for rehabilitation.
Spotlighting the International Day’s 2021 theme in his official message, the UN chief said “connection” is a crucial healing agent for many terrorism survivors, helping them to feel heard and seen.
In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the UN and its member states have strengthened efforts to uphold the rights of terrorism survivors and create platforms for connection, working hand-in-hand with civil society, victims’ associations and victims themselves.
The Organisation also took steps to build a robust counter-terrorism architecture, tasked with assisting states as they developed and implemented effective counter-terrorism frameworks in line with human rights law. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)