15 DECEMBER 2013


Our gracious, loyal and beautiful former colleague Wagaye Assebe, who passed away early December, was generally known as the Special Assistant of Secretary General Kofi Annan. She had worked with him since he was Chief of Personnel in the Eighties and continued with him when he became Secretary General. She earned the respect and affection of her colleagues because she treated them with similar respect and affection. Even those who strongly disagreed with Mr. Annan held special esteem for Wagaye. In fact, some held their fire because of her.

While proud of her Ethiopian roots, she handled her relations with the true spirit of an international civil servant. You could always count on her discretion and -- whenever in a relaxed mood -- on her brilliant sense of humour. We share the sorrow of her bereaved family and extend most sincere condolences.

A number of her bereaved colleagues wrote the following remembrance:

Remembering Wagaye Assebe

Friday, 6 December 2013, New York The Corner

Dear Wagaye,

We, your friends and colleagues, never expected to write this eulogy so soon. Your passing is a shock for everyone who crossed your path, even briefly. Moved by your grace, they were forever touched by your kindness and radiant smile.

Each of us has fond memories of you. For those who don't know you, you served the United Nations with professionalism and humility since 1985, in offices that included DPKO, OHRM, OPPBA and EOSG. One of the highlights was your time as personal assistant to Secretary General Kofi Annan from his first day in office until his last. You then joined the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, where you continued to inspire colleagues with your warmth and commitment.

We, your colleagues, are in pain right now as we grieve and think of your devoted husband and lovely daughter. But we were also deeply moved by the way you showed us that even in the worst adversity of recent months, you displayed uncommon fortitude and maintained hope, love and compassion for everyone.

Our tears are flowing, but we are also celebrating your life and giving thanks for having had the pleasure to know you.

With admiration and love,

Your United Nations family

A book of condolences will remain open until Monday, 16 December, at OSAA's office on the 32nd floor, room S-3272, in the Secretariat building.

A memorial service will be held in New York in January 2014 at a place and date to be announced later.

(The funeral took place on Saturday, 7 December, at 10am in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church at 4401 Old Branch Avenue in Temple Hills, Maryland 20748; tel: 301.899.6090.)