ABUJA, NIGERIA - Nigerian authorities are commemorating United Nations Day with the official reopening of the U.N. building in Abuja. The building has been closed since a deadly Boko Haram suicide attack in 2011.
The event Thursday opened with renditions of Nigeria's national anthem and the U.N. anthem played by Nigeria's National Assembly guards brigade.
Then, the reconstructed U.N. building officially reopened.
Mark Lowcock is U.N. Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs.
"The reopening of U.N. house today is an act of defiance against such terror,” Lowcock said. “We stand together to say that we will not be cowed by violence. We will continue to support the Nigerian people, fulfill their dreams of a future of prosperity and security.”
Twenty-three people including U.N. workers, guards, and visitors were killed in the 2011 blast. More than 60 others were injured.
Edward Kallon, the U.N. representative to Nigeria, recalled the tragic experience.
"What started as a normal working day at the U.N. house on Friday 26th of August, 2011 quickly turned into a disaster to the United Nations staff, families and some of our partners.” Kallon said. “It was indeed a dark day for the United Nations."
After the attack, Nigerian authorities vowed to reconstruct the building and in 2012 the government approved $15 million for the project.
Former foreign affairs minister Joy Ogwu said the United Nations and Nigeria remain committed partners.
"I want to express my appreciation to the resident coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon and the entire U.N. staff for their resilience in upholding the highest tradition of the United Nations in spite of the enormous challenges they have faced,” Ogwu said. “The reopening of the rebuilt and refurbished U.N. house in Abuja is a great testament to Nigeria's unflinching commitment to multilateralism."
Nigeria became a United Nations member in 1960, eight days after its independence from Britain.
The decade-long Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria has left more than seven million people in need of assistance. U.N. agencies are currently helping an estimated 3.8 million in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.