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A car in on fire on the parking next to a building marked by the UN flag. Several other cars are seriously damaged. Injured people are being carried to a Black Hawk helicopter of the Red Cross, a young women having great difficulties to walk is helped by an American soldier to embark as well. Other American helicopters are also in the vicinity, attempting to carry into safety the many injured people, whilst American soldiers are being posted around the former hotel training center in the North-East of the Irakian capital.
The date and time is August 19, 2003 at 5h37 pm at the Canal Hotel, the headquarters of the UN Peace Mission in Baghdad. A whole side of the building has collapsed. An explosion caused by a huge bomb hidden in a van has caused great harm : many victims are injured, some are dead. Among the latter, the UN Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the Peace Mission. At first, the first-aid workers had been been able to communicate with him : the Brasilian diplomate was alive under tons of debris and steel. For hours, everybody attempted to save him, including his fiancé who had survived the explosion. But to no avail, his injuries turned fatal.
After the invasion of Irak, everybody had been expecting bombings of American institutions, but nobody thought that the peace-seeking UN mission would be the target of terrorists. Were they not the very people attempting to return the sovereignty of Iraq to its People ? Was this another example of the fact that terrorists ignore their own History ?
This very compelling films looks at the events as they unfold, and attempts to shed light on the context of this surprise attack on one of the more difficult United nations missions. It also reports on the status of the murder investigation, and finally, invites us to reflect upon the role the UN can play in today’s world politics.