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Press centre

Press release

UNICEF mourns loss of staff member in Baghdad blast

Chris Klein-Beekman, September 2002, in Baghdad, Iraq.

NEW YORK, 19 August 2003 –  UNICEF expressed deep sorrow at the deaths of United Nations staff members today, including one of its own, in the blast at UN headquarters in Baghdad.

The UNICEF Programme Coordinator in Iraq, Mr. Christopher Klein-Beekman, age 32, was killed when the blast tore through the main UN facility in Baghdad.  Mr. Klein-Beekman held a senior position in Iraq and was Officer-in-Charge for UNICEF at the time of his death.

"The people of Iraq and the entire humanitarian community have suffered an enormous loss today," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, who visited UN staff in Iraq in May.  "Chris was an energetic, incredibly talented young man who made a huge impact in Iraq in a difficult time. He was a highly respected colleague and friend, and he cared passionately about children.  His loss is deeply mourned by all of us. These deaths are a  terrible, terrible tragedy."

UNICEF said that with the tragic exception of Mr. Klein-Beekman, all other UNICEF staff are safe and accounted for.

UNICEF, which has had a permanent presence in Iraq since 1983, maintains a separate office in Baghdad a few miles from the main UN compound. But UNICEF staff regularly took part in meetings at the UN building that was attacked today. 

Mr. Klein-Beekman, a national of Canada, is survived by his wife and parents. He took up his post in Iraq in May 2002, serving as the deputy of a large UNICEF operation that helped protect the lives of millions of Iraqi children before, during and after the war.

Mr. Klein-Beekman was previously a UNICEF Programme Officer in Kosovo and before that in Ethiopia.  His joined UNICEF in January 1997.

“This is a tragic day for the entire United Nations family,” Bellamy said.  “But for the families of those lost and injured, it is even more tragic.  Our hearts go out to them.”

*  *  *

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York e-mail: 
aironside@unicef.org (1-212) 326-7261

Gordon Weiss, UNICEF Media, New York e-mail: 
gweiss@unicef.org   (1-212) 326-7426




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