Annan arrives in Rio to mourn death of slain Iraq envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Rio de Janeiro today to attend the funeral of his envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed Tuesday when a massive truck bomb exploded outside of his office at Baghdad's Canal Hotel, killing at least 22 people and wounding scores of others.
"I´ve come to mourn a close friend and colleague, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a man of peace, a man who had given so much to the world and yet has been taken from us in such a senseless, savage way," the Secretary-General told reporters at the airport.
Mr. Annan also vowed to continue the work which Mr. Vieira de Mello had begun. "I think that´s the best way to honour his memory and what he stood for, and he himself wouldn´t want it any other way," he said. "His memory should inspire us to carry on."
Offering condolences to all of those affected by the tragic killing of the 55-year old champion of peace and human rights, Mr. Annan said the people of Brazil "should rightly be proud of him for what he has achieved in his short life."
In response to questions, the Secretary-General affirmed that the United Nations would continue its presence in Iraq. "Obviously, we´ll take strict security measures to protect our staff, but we will continue," he said.
At the time of his death, Mr. Vieira de Mello was also the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Before that, he was the UN Transitional Administrator in East Timor, helping to guide the world's newest nation during its transition to independence. Prior to that, he briefly held the position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, following a year and a half serving at Headquarters as Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Mr. Vieira de Mello spent the bulk of his career in service with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which he joined in 1969, culminating in his appointment as Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees in January 1996.
His Cyprus, Mozambique, Peru and Lebanon. Mr. Vieira de Mello has also served as Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for Cambodia, Director of Repatriation for the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia, Head of Civil Affairs of the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, as well as UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Mr. Vieira de Mello is survived by his wife and two sons.
This document has been published on 20sep03 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.