UNFPA Executive Director mourns mandela

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, Dr.  Babatunde Osotimehinon, has expressed deep sadness at the death of former South African President and anti-apartheid stalwart, Nelson Mandela, saying the world has lost a true statesman, a leader and a pragmatic visionary.

In a tribute, Osotimehinon said Mr. Mandela, as a formidable and tireless champion of human rights, strove to address inequality and indignity wherever he found them, be it in his own country or beyond South Africa’s borders.

He said Mr. Mandela, having won the battle against oppression in his own country, his influence and inspiration were truly global and he was called on to mediate conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, in each case, applying his deeply held belief that reconciliation, negotiation and inclusion of all sides in a conflict were the only way to move forward in an impasse.

"When he took on the fight against AIDS in Africa he invoked the language of the struggle, insisting that HIV/AIDS was not just a disease, but also a human rights issue. Mr. Mandela was determined to break the stigma surrounding the pandemic and make it a priority on the political agenda."

To do this, Mr. Mandela made a very personal decision, to make public the fact that his own son had died of AIDS-related complications.

"It was this humanity and honesty that defined Mr. Mandela and set him apart as one of the most influential and transformative leaders of our time."

Osotimehinon said Mr. Mandela's deep conviction, passion, humility and courage characterised everything he did and drove his enormous efforts in addressing some of the most challenging and enduring issues facing our world - the fight against injustice, poverty, the right to education and the safety and protection of children.

"Denied his freedom for so many years, Mr. Mandela never allowed the physical restraints of prison to limit his potential as a human being.  In the face of adversity, he cultivated forgiveness; in the face of captivity and injustice, he grew more determined to commit to ensuring the rights and freedoms of others; in the face of cruelty, he mastered compassion," the UNFPA boss said.
-0- PANA MA 6Dec2013

06 december 2013 15:52:50

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