Scars of terrorism “run deep”, and while they may fade with time, “they never disappear”. Those were some of the comforting words from United Nations Chief Secretary-General António Guterres as he helped mark the second International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.
Dozens of people who either lost loved ones or who were injured in terrorist attacks gathered in New York to retell their stories.
Kenyan widow Sarah Tikolo lost her husband, Geoffrey, in the 1998 United States Embassy attack in Nairobi.
“I have lived with the pain of this for many years and it has been hard,” she acknowledged. But recently she decided that to help herself and her son, she needed to forgive, as “the only way…to move forward”.
Tikolo now employed by the US Embassy, says she was grateful to have a way to support her son’s university studies.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him and what he has achieved”.
Another survivor Thelma Stober, of the United Kingdom, suffered “significant and permanent injuries” in the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in London. 52 people, mostly-commuters died on their way to work. Hundreds more were injured.
“Having been fortunate to survive this atrocity, resilience for me has been the unrelenting determination, fortitude and drive to achieve my ‘purpose’, which is to use my experience to make a positive difference, to the lives of victims and survivors of terrorism and other crimes”, Stober said.
She pointed out that much has been written about supporting victims of terrorism, but asked: “Who monitors to ensure effective, fair, transparent and equal implementation? Who holds member states to account for commitments they have signed up to?”. In Ms. Stober’s view, “this is a role the UN should play”.
This even as the UN Chief said that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a global challenge adding it causes lasting damage to individuals, families and communities.
“Many innocent lives have been tragically cut short” by these “ruthless atrocities”, Guterres lamented.
The General Assembly established 21 August as the International Day to honour and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law to prevent and combat terrorism.