I am writing from Abuja, Nigeria, where all are mourning the victims of the tragic bombings of a local newspaper’s offices here and in the city of Kaduna. Innocent lives were lost to these terrible acts of murder. At the time of the blast, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe and I were commemorating the victims of the 2011 United Nations House bombing, which also took the innocent lives of primarily the UN’s Nigerian staff.
I can’t help but reflect on the juxtapositions life sometimes presents after experiencing this tragic event. It not only occurred while we were having a ceremony for our fallen UN colleagues, but during a mission to strengthen the Nigerian plan to reduce the 72,000 pediatric HIV cases born each year. To have such a senseless loss of life, in one brief moment, made me reflect on how fragile and precious life is. And it sharpens my resolve to ensure that children born to HIV-positive mothers — and all children here — have every opportunity to reach their full potential.
With particular sadness, I join my U.S. government colleagues in extending my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones in the bombings, and to all the people of Nigeria.