UN chief 'deeply saddened' to confirm death of top UN officials

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday that he is "deeply saddened to confirm the tragic death" of his special representative to Haiti, Hedi Annabi, and his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa.

In a statement issued at the UN Headquarters in New York, Ban said, "In every sense of the word, they gave their lives for peace. "

Also confirmed dead were the acting police commissioner, Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ban said.

Annabi, a Tunisian national who was head of the UN Stability Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), was found dead among debris in the quake-destroyed UN Headquarters in Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, Chinese rescuers announced in the capital on Saturday.

Xinhua reporters witnessed Annabi's body being recuperated by the Chinese rescue team on Saturday afternoon. He was believed to be in a meeting with a high-ranking delegation from China when the quake struck the small island country.

"Our hearts are with them, the families and friends of Hedi, Luiz, Doug and the many other UN heroes who gave their lives for Haiti and for the highest ideals of the United Nations," said the secretary-general. "Their dearest wish, I am sure, would be that we carry forward the noble work that they and their colleagues performed so well."

Annabi was born in 1944, he joined the United Nations in 1981 and served as deputy head of UN peacekeeping operations from 1997 to 2007. He assumed his Haiti post in September 2007.

Annabi "was a true citizen of the world. The United Nations was his life and he ranked amongst its most dedicated and committed sons," Ban said. "He was passionate about its mission and its people."

"He gave of himself fully -- with energy, discipline and great bravery," he said. "From his start as a desk officer for Cambodia to his involvement in literally every peacekeeping operation the UN launched for over a decade, he was the gold standard of service against which all who had the privilege to work with him were measured.

"An icon of UN peacekeeping, there was no better representative of the international civil service. A mild man with the heart of a lion, he is remembered by those who knew him for his dry sense of humor, his integrity and his unparalleled work ethic -- he was the first in and the last out every day for his entire career.

"He 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 said.

"Luiz Carlos da Costa, from Brazil, was for many, many years a legend of UN peacekeeping operations," the secretary-general said. "His extraordinary professionalism and dedication were matched only by his charisma and warmth, and his devotion to his many friends."

"Over decades, he brought many of the finest and most talented staff to the United Nations. He was a mentor to generations of UN staff," Ban said. "He knew them; he knew their families; and his heart was always open to hear their story and to help them."

"His legacy lives in the thousands that serve under the blue flag in every corner of the globe."

"Doug Coates was a long-serving member of the international law enforcement community," Ban said. "He was a true friend of Haiti and the United Nations. He was a great police officer who believed to his core in the importance of rule of law and justice."

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