Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio during the Virtual Holocaust Commemoration: 27 January 2021

Building on successful educational programmes and commemorations over the years, we are this year holding virtual commemorations.

  • The Honourable Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Ms. Godfridah Sumaili, MP
  • The German Ambassador to Zambia Her Excellency Dr. Anne Wagner-Mitchell
  • The Charge d’ Affaires of the United States of America Embassy, Mr. David Young
  • Ambassadors, High Commissioners accredited to Zambia
  • Mr. Simon Zukas, Chairperson of the Zambia Council of Jewry, & Mrs. Cynthia Zukas  
  • Colleagues from the UN Family
  • Members of the Jewish Community in Zambia
  • Mr. Martin Kalungu-Banda, Presencing Institute, United Kingdom
  • The Clergy & Representatives of Faith Based Organisations
  • Representatives of Civil Society Organisations
  • The Youth and Students
  • The Media
  • Ladies and gentlemen

I am honored to share a few remarks this afternoon as we, yet again, commemorate the Holocaust to remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who were systematically killed at the hands of the Nazi in Europe during World War 2.

Building on successful educational programmes and commemorations over the years, we are this year holding virtual commemorations in conformity with COVID-19 prevention measures. This year, we are looking at reconstitution after the Holocaust, a process that included the accurate recording of the historical account of what happened before and during the Holocaust. Challenging the denial and distortion of the historical events was interwoven in the processes of recovery and reconstitution. We also look at the contribution of the responses to the victims of the Holocaust, and of the survivors, to addressing the needs of the contemporary world, and to the historical record of the Holocaust.

I am pleased that so many of you, including the Honorable Minister, and members of the diplomatic corps could join the event. I am also happy to note the participation of so many youth and students who need to hear about the Holocaust and learn lessons for a better tomorrow.

The role of youth in shaping the future we want cannot be overemphasized. Just last year, we had massive participation by Zambian youth in the UN75 campaign about the future we want. Youth should have a say on the future as the future is in their hands.

Let me point out that as the United Nations, we will continue supporting Holocaust commemorations working with various partners including member states as they help the global community in building democracies which would not be possible without peace. Looking inwards within Zambia, I wish to encourage all citizens of this beautiful country to cherish peace as a highly valued commodity upon which the very essence of society and the future depends.

Let me now read the statement by the UN Secretary-General His Excellency Mr. António Guterres on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of The Holocaust.

I QUOTE:

Today we honor the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who were systematically murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators.

This year’s anniversary takes place under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has revealed longstanding fractures and injustices in our societies and contributed to a resurgence in antisemitism and xenophobia.

The Holocaust was the culmination of two millennia of discrimination, attacks, expulsions, and periodic mass killings of Jews. It should have ended antisemitism for good. But it did not.

Antisemitism unfortunately remains alive and well.

Today, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are resurgent, organizing and recruiting across borders, intensifying their efforts to deny, distort and rewrite history including the Holocaust. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has given them new opportunities to target minorities, based on religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, and immigration status.

We must make urgent joint efforts to stop them.

As we consider the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must address the fragilities and gaps exposed by the pandemic and strengthen our mutual bonds, based on our common humanity.

This year must be a year of healing. Healing from the pandemic and healing our broken societies in which hatred has all too easily taken root.

As we remember those who died in the Holocaust and honor the survivors, our best tribute is the creation of a world of equality, justice, and dignity for all.

END OF QUOTE

I wish you all a fruitful event and urge you all to stay safe as we get through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

I thank you.

Speech by
Author
Coumba Mar Gadio
Resident Coordinator
RCO
Coumba Mar Gadio, PhD
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNIC
United Nations Information Centre