Source, UNOCI Information Service
“The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) regrets to announce the death of Zahra Abidi, a civilian staff member deployed to the mission as an information analyst at the Joint Operations Centre. Ms. Abidi, a Swedish national, died on Thursday, March 31, 2011, from stray bullet wounds.
Ms. Abidi arrived in Côte d’Ivoire on April 6, 2009, and was single and 33 years old. She had served for two years in the Electoral Assistance Division of UNOCI as an electoral advisor. UNOCI extends its sincere condolences to the Government of Sweden, as well as to the bereaved family.”
It was through this statement that the UN Operation announced the death of Zarha Abidi in Abidjan.
Interviewed by the Expressen, her mother Lena recalls her daughter, “She was a hero, she was a very good hero!”
Zahra Abidi, 34, wanted to change the world for the better and accepted the United Nations job in Ivory Coast, even though she knew it was risky.
Thursday night, she was chatting with her mother Lena on skype – but the communication suddenly broke down. Lena, her mother, thought the interruption was due to a technical problem, but later that night the phone rang. Zahra had been hit in the head by a stray bullet and was dead.
– It happened while I was chatting with her on Skype,” says Lena.
The 34-year-old Swede from Stockholm first visited Côte d’Ivoire during the 2009 elections. She had a master’s degree in international relations from Stockholm and Paris and wanted to go out into the world and work.
“It was her desire to be in the world and to help,” says Zahra’s mother, Lena Brasseur Abidi, on the phone to Expressen.se from Belgium.
After some time in the Ivory Coast, the situation worsened and Zahra was evacuated last December. She returned to her mother’s house to rest, but soon received a new job offer, which she accepted. So Zahra was well aware of the risks she was taking when she returned to Côte d’Ivoire on March 10 of this year to start a new job as an analyst at the United Nations.
“The country was in turmoil at the time. She should not have gone there at the time, but she chose to do so,” her father Mohamed Abidi told Expressen.se.
On the evening of her death, Thursday night, at 10:30 p.m., Mohamed spoke with his daughter on Skype.
Zahra was in her apartment in the city of Abidjan at the time with other UN staff members.
“She told me it was chaotic all around, that they were shooting, but that she was not alone,” Mohamed said. Father and daughter talked about the situation in the country.
– I asked, ‘Do you feel like you are making a difference? She replied, “Yes, Daddy, I am making a difference.”
Later that evening, Zahra spoke with her mother. They also talked about security and Zahra told her that she was not allowed to go out.
A few hours later, Mohamed received the tragic news in his apartment in Stockholm.
– It’s unbelievable. It seems so senseless,” says Mohamed.
He describes Zahra as a committed person who always followed her own path.
– She was a role model for young girls. She wanted to make a difference, says Mohamed.
– She was a little heroine, she was a very good heroine.”