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UN to remember victims of deadly Baghdad bombing

The United Nations will commemorate tomorrow the fifth anniversary of the bombing of its office in Baghdad that killed 22 staffers, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon is to interrupt a two-week vacation to attend the ceremony, which will pay tribute to the victims with a reading of their names and observance of a minute of silence.
A wreath-laying will also be held at the memorial plaque in the lobby of the General Assembly building.
And there will be a performance of a 15-minute classical music piece by US composer Steve Heitzeg, called "Song without Borders," in memory of UN staff members who have perished in the line of duty.
Since 1948, when the world body established its first peacekeeping operation in the Middle East — the UN Truce Supervision Organisation, 709 peacekeepers have been killed in the line of duty, according to UN statistics.
The suicide bombing that targeted the UN headquarters in Baghdad on August 19, 2003 killed Vieira de Mello of Brazil, a veteran UN troubleshooter, and 21 other staffers. Another 150 people were injured.
Immediately following the bombing, the UN dramatically scaled down its presence in the country.
The Baghdad bombing raised serious concerns over the UN's ability to protect its personnel serving in peacekeeping missions in hotspots around the world.
Last December, two suicide blasts targeting UN offices in Algiers killed 18 UN staffers, three of them foreign nationals.
The bombings were claimed by an offshoot of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.
In response, the UN staff union demanded an independent probe into whether adequate security measures were in place at UN installations around the world.
Ban then assembled a six-member panel headed by former troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi to investigate.
Last June, the Brahimi panel issued a report in which it said there was "ample evidence that several (UN) staff members up and down the hierarchy may have failed to respond adequately to the Algiers attacks, both before and after the tragedy."
The findings led to the resignation of the UN security chief, Sir David Veness.
The report also said that "the explicit targeting of the UN by terrorist groups represents a sea-change among the threats" facing the world body now and in the foreseeable future.
On August 7, The UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the 767-strong UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and expressed its readiness to review the mandate "in 12 months or sooner, if requested by the government of Iraq."

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