August 18, 2018

‘It’s time to listen to terrorism victims, survivors’ – UN chief

Owo church attack

United Nation’s Secretary- General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it was now time for the society to support victims and survivors of terrorists attacks by listening to them and for their voices to be heard.

Mr António Guterres

Guterres made the remarks at the opening of multimedia exhibition entitled: “Surviving Terrorism: Victims’ Voices” at the UN headquarters in New York to commemorate the first International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.

He called the International Day paying tribute to the victims, which will be marked on Aug. 21, “an opportunity to recognise, honour and support victims and survivors, and to lift up the voices of those left behind.”

He said terrorism was one of the most challenging issues of our time and a serious threat to international peace and security adding, no country can consider itself immune, with almost every nationality in the world falling victim to terrorist attacks.

According to him, the number and deadliness of these ruthless attacks on civilians has increased in recent years, shattering countless communities and individual lives.

The UN chief said: “But after terrorist attacks, we rarely hear about those who were killed and injured. Their stories too often go untold.

“Ordinary women, men, girls and boys, going about their daily lives, attending markets, schools, places of worship, sports events or concerts, or even standing in line to vote, when their lives were ended or changed forever.

“And we rarely hear about their surviving families, friends and communities, who must learn to live with the burden of terrorism for their entire lives. We rarely hear these stories. We hear numbers, and we move on.

“It is time to stop and to listen to the victims and survivors of terrorism. It is time to raise up their voices and recognise the impact terrorism has on their lives”.

Guterres said the society needed to support victims and provide them with long-term assistance, including financial, legal, medical and psychosocial support.

According to him, supporting victims and their families is a moral imperative, based on promoting, protecting and respecting their human rights.

“It is also an effective means of countering the evil of terrorism, which aims first and foremost to alienate and to divide our societies.

“To support victims and to listen to their voices is a meaningful way for us to prove that we care – and to negate the terrorist narrative,” he said.

The UN chief said the victims of terrorism were some of the most important voices we have in countering this global menace adding, we can all learn from those who have experienced terrorism.

He commended communities around the world for demonstrating their resilience in response to terrorist attacks, saying they are countering terrorism and violent extremism in their everyday lives, in their schools and in their places of worship.

“When we lift up the victims and survivors of terrorism, when we listen to their voices, when we respect their rights and provide them with support and justice, we are honouring our common bonds, and reducing the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, families and communities,” he said.

Guterres said for the first time, we have gathered in one place the testimonials of individuals whose lives have been affected by terrorism, to hear first-hand how this has impacted their lives, and what they have achieved.

He applauded the courage and resilience of the victims and survivors of terrorism, assuring them of the UN’s solidarity and support.

“We are here for you and we are listening to you. Your voices matter. Your courage in the face of adversity is a lesson inspiring us all,” Guterres said.