UNITED NATIONS – Rescuers recovered the body of veteran diplomat Hedi Annabi, who was in charge of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti when the earthquake struck and collapsed the U.N. headquarters building, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Saturday.
Ban said the bodies of Annabi's deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa, and the mission's acting police commissioner, Doug Coates, were also found.
Annabi was meeting with an eight-member police delegation from China when the earthquake toppled the five-story headquarters building late Tuesday afternoon. Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, said its reporters witnessed Annabi's body being recovered from the rubble by a Chinese rescue team on Saturday afternoon.
U.N. officials said Friday that roughly 100 U.N. personnel who worked at U.N. headquarters were missing and believed buried under the collapsed building where Chinese and Brazilian teams were still searching.
Ban called Annabi, a Tunisian diplomat who worked for the U.N. for 28 years, "a true citizen of the world" and "an icon of U.N. peacekeeping."
Annabi worked for Tunisia's foreign service and ran the National News Agency before joining the U.N. in 1981. He worked on humanitarian issues in Southeast Asia and was a key player in U.N. efforts to end Cambodia's civil conflict in the early 1990s. He joined the U.N. Peacekeeping Department in 1993 and rose to be assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping in 1997, a post he held until he went to Haiti as the secretary-general's special representative in 2007.
"The United Nations was his life and he ranked among its most dedicated and committed sons," Ban said in a statement.
"He gave of himself fully — with energy, discipline and great bravery," the secretary-general said. "A mild man with the heart of a lion, he is remembered by those who knew him for his dry sense of humor, his integrity and his unparalleled work ethic — he was the first in and the last out every day for his entire career."
Ban said Da Costa, from Brazil, was also "a legend in U.N. peacekeeping operations" and "a mentor to generations of U.N. staff."
"His extraordinary professionalism and dedication were matched only by his charisma and warmth, and his devotion to his many friends," the secretary-general said. "His legacy lives in the thousands that serve under the blue flag in every corner of the globe."
Coates, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounter Police, was a long-serving member of the international law enforcement community, Ban said.
"He was a true friend of Haiti and the United Nations," the secretary-general said. "He was a great police officer who believed to his core in the importance of rule of law and justice."