"M - Requiem for Baghdad" was one of the most emotional short stories I wrote for "The Road to the Horizon". It was a challenge to weave that many personal emotions into one story. Emotions about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the turn the world made on 9/11, the humanitarian operations we were closely involved in after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The story was written with the bombing of the Canal Hotel, the UN HQ in Baghdad, on August 19 2003 as the center part. That day still represents a very very dark period for me. A day I lost M, a close friend, due to senseless violence she had no part in. A day I lost several of my colleagues, and where several people in my team got severely wounded. A day which scarred many of us even up today.
Sergio de Mello, who was the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Iraq at the time. A remarkable person I had the privilege to meet several times.
One of the people we lost was
One of the people we lost was
His memory is still alive for many of us, so much that several people put their heads together, and decided to start a foundation in his honour. This is the message they just sent out:
19 August 2003 was a sad day for the United Nations and all those who believe that peace and security can be achieved through dialogue and international cooperation. On that fateful day, Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his UN colleagues and associates fell victims to the first of a long series of violent acts that have characterized the Iraq war.
With Sergio Vieira de Mello's cruel disappearance, the world has not only lost a brilliant and charismatic advocate of peace and human rights but also a tireless and highly effective humanitarian champion.He represented the best the UN could offer in terms of promoting multilateral solutions to today's world's most challenging situations. He remains a sterling example of selfless service for many to emulate.
His brutal death provoked an outburst of sympathy and moving testimonies of high esteem and deep regret for his untimely loss. In acknowledgment of this widespread sentiments and growing movement to honour his memory and pursue his ideals, the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation has been created at the initiative of a small group of friends, colleagues and family to continue his unfinished work.
Dedicated to promoting dialogue for the peaceful resolution of conflict, the Sergio Vieira De Mello Foundation has been established as an international entity under Swiss law to continue Sergio’s mission and fulfill his vision through:
• An Annual Prize in his name awarded to individuals, institutions or communities in recognition of their outstanding and unique work undertaken to achieve peaceful reconciliation between peoples and parties in conflict, through dialogue.
• Supporting the initiatives and efforts of individuals, institutions and communities engaged in applying dialogue for promoting peaceful reconciliation and co-existence between peoples and communities divided by conflict.
• Supporting and encouraging academic and research institutions to conduct research and studies in the relevant areas of multilateral humanitarian action to which he devoted his life and on which he left a lasting impact.
• Establishing a Scholarship in his name to be awarded to selected academically outstanding children of victims of humanitarian conflict.
The Foundation's website is expected to be operational soon.The Foundation is in the process of establishing an Electronic Address List of "Friends of Sergio" for communicating directly with them to update and involve them continuously in the Foundation's work."
I will keep you posted.
Update Feb 22 2008: Sergio's foundation is now active!
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