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NCC 'Deeply Grieved' at Attacks on U.N.'s Iraq Headquarters, Jerusalem Bus

August 20, 2003, NEW YORK CITY - The general secretary of the National Council of Churches U.S.A. today said he was "deeply grieved" at Tuesday’s attacks on the United Nations’ offices in Baghdad and on a bus in Jerusalem.

"If we ever are to achieve a ‘just peace,’ whether in Iraq or among Israelis and Palestinians, the cycle of violence must be broken," said the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar. "And in both situations, international collaboration toward lasting solutions is crucial."

"Both of Tuesday’s attacks, while set in different contexts, killed and injured innocent civilians and further stoked frustration and fear in the wider population," he continued.

"Moreover, the attack on the United Nations’ Baghdad offices - also a hub of activity for non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance in Iraq - struck at the very people who are working for the survival and well-being of ordinary Iraqi children, women and men.

"In fact," Dr. Edgar said, "many of them opposed the U.S.-led war and the preceding decade-plus of economic sanctions that, according to the United Nations, resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of children."

Dr. Edgar expressed particular grief at the death of the U.N.’s special envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was known and respected widely for his commitment to resolving conflicts through peaceful means and to ending suffering around the world.

"We express our condolences and sympathy to all who lost family, friends and colleagues in the Baghdad and Jerusalem attacks," he said. "We salute the United Nations’ resolve to continue working in Iraq. We call all parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from violence, which only begets more violence.

"May all of us with any influence continue to press for a peaceful resolution of these and other crises, never losing sight of the goal - peace, security, food, shelter, education, work and other basic human rights for all," Dr. Edgar concluded.

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