United Nations Remembers
Speech by Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative and UN Resident Coordinator a.i. at the commemoration “Skopje remembers” to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Skopje earthquake.
SKOPJE, 26 July 2013: “I am honored to represent the United Nations at this historical commemoration.
We also remember how this tragic event inspired a spirit of international solidarity that transformed the reconstruction of Skopje into a real symbol of friendship and community among people of the world.
The United Nations member states passed a resolution in the General Assembly, appealing for concerted support for immediate relief and for the reconstruction efforts.
For the people of Skopje the city’s reconstruction was as historical an event as was the destruction of the earthquake itself. In the sixties when Skopje school-children were asked to write an essay on what was a major event in their life, 80% of those children chose to write about the reconstruction rather than the destruction itself.
It is with great pride that today I accepted on behalf of the United Nations the letter of gratitude from the Mayor of the City of Skopje. This is recognition of the United Nation’s convening power to unite and for the support provided to the people of Skopje. UNICEF and the World Food Programme provided immediate humanitarian relief to the victims, while the UN provided support for the new urban plan, as well for the establishment of the Institute of Earthquake Engineering, Engineering Seismology and Urban Planning. Technical assistance was provided by the Special Fund – which is today the United Nations Development Programme.
The UN support and commitment has continued after the country’s independence. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of this country’s membership to the UN, and looking forward I want to assure you that the United Nations’ organizations’ commitment to support the City of Skopje and the entire country in their efforts to advance sustainable development that benefits all people in the country.”