Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the first black man to ever hold the position, has died at the age of 80.
According to a statement posted on Twitter, Annan died after a short illness and was with his wife and children at the end. The career diplomat, who rose through the U.N. ranks, died in a hospital in the Swiss city of Bern, the BBC reports.
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“Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy,” the statement put by his family and his foundation, the Kofi Annan Foundation, said. “He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did.”
The Ghanaian-born Annan served as secretary-general for two terms between 1997 and 2006. He earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
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His home country, Ghana, has declared a week of national mourning. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo called Annan “one of our greatest compatriots”.
“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good,” current U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. 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.”
Annan continued his humanitarian work after he left the U.N. by starting hisKofi Annan Foundation.
Our condolences go out to his family.
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