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Kofi Annan dies aged 80

August 18, 2018

The 7th UN secretary-general died in Switzerland after a short illness, his family and foundation announced. Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Image: DW/P. Musvanhiri

The family and foundation of Kofi Annan announced his death on Saturday morning.

In a statement via social media, they said "Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations and Nobel Peace laureate, passed away on Saturday" after a short illness.

The Ghanaian-born international diplomat had most recently been involved in drawing attention to the situation of refugees and in particular the plight of the Rohingya communities in Myanmar forced to flee their homes. 

Ghana announced on Saturday a week of mourning.

Annan headed his own foundation and was chair of The Elders, which had been founded by the late South African president, Nelson Mandela. 

Annan was a scholarship student in the US at the age of 20, studying economics, before moving to Geneva where he attended graduate classes. He joined the staff of the World Health Organization based in the Swiss city and took UN posts in Africa and New York. 

He became UN secretary-general in December 1996 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for bringing new life to the UN and leading its work for civil rights, against terrorism and in challenging AIDS. 

Current Secretary General, Antonio Guterres described Annan as a guiding force for good: " In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination."

For The Elders, Annan had most recently encouraged young people to continue Mandela's long walk to freedom in the name of peace.

He leaves his wife, Nane, and three children: Ama, Kojo and Nina. 

jm/jlw (Reuters, AP)

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