Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR at a Press Conference after 66th session of Excom. 9 October 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Guterres marks 9/11, describes first responders as example of compassion

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has paid tribute to the first responders who ran into the buildings to save lives during the terror attacks in the U.S. 20 years ago.

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, which were orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Guterres paid tribute to the first responders in a statement on Saturday, describing them as examples of humanity and compassion.

Memorial ceremonies were held across the United States on Saturday, including the three sites of the attacks: a plane was also flown into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Military, and another crashed into a field in Pennyslvania, after passengers wrestled back control from the hijackers.

More than 400 first responders were killed in New York that day, the majority of them fire fighters.

Guterres honoured those who put themselves in harm’s way when they headed towards the burning Twin Towers, “with many making the ultimate sacrifice, exemplifying the very humanity and compassion that terrorism seeks to erase”.

Describing the day as one “seared in the minds of millions of people around the world,” Guterres recalled that the thousands of victims, and thousands more injured in the “cowardly and heinous “act came from some 90 countries.

Paying tribute to the survivors who, he said, have had to overcome physical and emotional scars to get on with their lives, Guterres pledged the UN’s continued solidarity with the people of New York City, the United States of America, as well as all victims of terrorism everywhere around the world.

Guterres also recalled the solidarity, unity and resolve expressed 20 years ago by the international community.

The then Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, condemned the attacks on the day they happened, stressing that no just cause can be advanced by terror, and the members of the Security Council unanimously called on all countries to work together to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Similarly, in a statement by the President of the Security Council, Geraldine  Nason 20 years ago, to mark the anniversary,  the members of the Security Council condemned the horrifying terrorist attacks which took place in the United States on Sept.11, 2001.

“Today, the members of the Security Council marked this solemn anniversary with a visit to the 11 September Memorial and Museum in New York City.

“The members of the Security Council are as united today as they were 20 years ago in their commitment to prevent and counter terrorism, in all its forms and wherever it occurs, consistent with international law.

“The members of the Security Council offer their condolences to the families and friends of those killed in these attacks, recognizing that more than 90 countries lost citizens,” Nason said.

The Security Council recommits to the words set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…and for these ends to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”