The first black African to become UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has died aged 80 in Switzerland. He passed away peacefully after a short illness on Saturday.
Mr. Annan worked during two terms as UN chief from 1997 to 2006. He also received a Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work for his efforts. Later he served as the UN special envoy for Syria. His efforts lead to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The Kofi Annan Foundation described him as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world”.
“Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did”
The career diplomat was originally from Ghana. He died in the Swiss city of Bern’s hospital. For several years, he was living near Geneva before his death.
He also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalize the international body. Kofi Annan called his greatest achievement as the Millennium Development Goals. His efforts, for the first time, has set global targets on many issues.
Mr. Annan critics also blamed him for the UN’s failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. At that time he was serving as head of the Organization’s peacekeeping operations.
Later, he and his son alleged for involvement in the ‘oil for food corruption scandal’. This scandal led some to call for his resignation, however, he later vindicated.
Current UN chief Antonio Guterres tributes to his predecessor and describes Mr, Annan as ‘a guiding force for good’.
He further said “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination”.
UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein tweeted, “I am grief-stricken over the death of Kofi Annan. Kofi was the epitome of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, the world’s loss becomes even more painful. He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions”
Tributes have been pouring in from UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg.
Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that he, “Saddened to hear that Kofi Annan has passed away. His warmth should never be mistaken for weakness. Annan showed that one can be a great humanitarian and a strong leader at the same time. The UN and the world have lost one of their giants”.
Theresa May said she is “Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family”.
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