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January 13th, 2010

Hédi Annabi, 1949-2010

Back in the days when I worked on Kosovo I had a lot of dealings with Hédi Annabi, a Tunisian UN official who was then deputy head of the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations. I remember several brown-bag lunches hosted by him inside UN headquarters where I would expound on why the UN should be doing better, and Annabi, in the courteous way of a Mediterranean official with the best Parisian education, would explain to me that I was partly wrong and that where I was right it was not the UN's fault. His staff seemed to enjoy our sparring and the events were always vigorous and I hope educational all round.

Annabi moved from New York in September 2007, when he was appointed head of the UN Mission in Haiti. Reports from there indicate that the UN mission building there was completely destroyed yesterday's earthquake, and that over a hundred people inside, including Annabi, were killed.

Edited to add I hear that the victims probably also include Gerardo LeChevalier, who I knew vaguely at NDI when he was head of their Latin American operations: a former political activist from El Salvador who was entertaining company, and had a special personal insight into the US Central America policy of the 1980s.

No need for condolences to me; I didn't know him all that well. But a chill goes down the spine none the less.

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