NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–22 January 2010 – Senior United Nations official Hédi Annabi, lauded by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “true citizen of the world” and a “mild man with the heart of a lion,” was laid to rest in the soil of his Tunisian homeland today, nine days after he died in the rubble of Haiti’s devastating earthquake.
Mr. Annabi, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), was accompanied on his final journey home by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy, representing Mr. Ban.
“Overwhelmed but guided by faith in God’s will, we today bid farewell to a dear brother, a faithful man and a brilliant diplomat; a devoted and emeritus son of Tunisia who was imbued with immeasurable principles and inexhaustible human values of this land, called back to God while being at the height of his work,” Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane said in a eulogy.
“Our dear departed died while performing his noble mission of United Nations representative for stabilisation in Haiti, whose people and Government showed him a special affection, as stressed by Haitian President René Préval, who mourned what he described as ‘a great loss for the United Nations, Tunisia and all Haitians’.”
Mr. Annabi, his Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa, and UN Acting Police Commissioner Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police died when the Hotel Christopher, MINUSTAH’s headquarters in Port-au-Prince, the capital, was destroyed by the 12 January quake, which is estimated to have affected some 3 million Haitians, a third of the impoverished country’s population.
Nearly 50 UN personnel lost their lives and nearly 150 are still not accounted for.
When Mr. Annabi’s death was confirmed last week, Mr. Ban declared: “He gave of himself – with energy, discipline and great bravery,” adding that the envoy was the “gold standard of service against which all who had the privilege to work with him were measured.”
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,” he stressed.