|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at the Site of the Bombing at U.S. Embassy Nairobi
Nairobi, Kenya, August 18, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Mr. Foreign Minister, friends, pole sana. Good afternoon and thank you all for being here. I have come to Nairobi today, to this sorrowful and now sacred location, to deliver in person a message from the American people. That message begins with sadness and grief. As a result of the cowardly act committed here, more than 250 people are dead. Five thousand were injured. Almost every family in every part of Kenya has been touched by this tragedy. So many, so well loved, have been lost. Our pain is deep. In America, in Tanzania, and most of all here in Kenya.
To the people of Kenya, I express on behalf of my country our deepest sympathy. The bombing here ten days ago was a terrible injustice. The dead were teenage girls, office workers, mothers, children. They were not the enemies of anyone. They were innocent. Just as Kenya was innocent. Why should this nation of good and proud people be singled out along with Tanzania? There is no reason. But terror is not about reason. It's about hate, and we reject hate. It's about destruction, and the peoples of Kenya and the United States reject destruction. We are builders. The terrorists would like nothing better than to drive us apart. We must not let them. We will not let them.
Together, we mourn the friends and loved ones we have lost. Together, we pray for the swift and complete recovery of those who have been injured. Together, we pledge to bring to justice the murderers of our loved ones, colleagues and friends. And together, we must vow to maintain warm relations between our two countries. Our friendship extends back for decades. Even before independence, the Kennedy airlift brought hundreds of Kenyans to the United States to receive a higher education. We have long been partners in supporting peace, stability, and freedom in East Africa and we have developed strong and enduring people-to-people ties.
I know there is anguish about what happened in the aftermath of the bombings. And I cannot say we acted perfectly, but I believe that allegations of callousness are wrong. In the circumstances, amidst the horror, the fears and the different jobs that had to be done, it's not surprising that there were misunderstandings. The U.S. Marines limited access not out of indifference but because they were afraid that the weakened building would collapse and trap new victims, in order to keep people away from the burning fuel tanks, and because they were concerned about the possibility of a second terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, there were many heroes. The people of Kenya may be proud of the efforts made with nothing more than muscles, bare hands, and the urgency of desperate caring to retrieve people from the rubble and save their lives. A number of foreign countries, especially the Israelis, earned our admiration and gratitude for all they did to help.
The United States, too, contributed much. We provided massive quantities of search-and-rescue equipment such as generators, hydraulic machines, and listening devices. An urban disaster support team from Virginia helped in the effort to find survivors and recover bodies, both from the Embassy and from Ufundi House. We provided large amounts of medical supplies, and our military surgeons and paramedics have been hard at work in Kenyan hospitals. But our efforts to rebuild from this tragedy are far from complete. They must and will continue. When our Congress returns to Washington early next month, the administration will request substantial emergency funds to help Kenya and Tanzania recover. We want to work with the representatives of the people of Kenya and with the NGO community to identify and meet specific needs, such as medical care, assistance for the victims and their families, repairs to public infrastructure, and security improvements. We also want to reaffirm our commitment to helping the people of Kenya build a more prosperous and fully democratic society.
I know that some have said that the Kenyans who were killed would not have been killed if America had not been here in Nairobi. And that is probably true. But why are we here? The Americans and Kenyans who worked in our embassy and who were among the victims wanted nothing more nor less than to improve the quality of life for both our peoples. And that's why we have worked, and will continue to work, to broaden economic opportunities, strengthen civil society, promote sustainable development, fight disease, and safeguard the environment. These efforts reflect values and aspirations that Kenyans and Americans share -- and no bombing can change that.
We are also very proud that the efforts of the United States are being carried out here by a most amazing ambassador, Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, and we are all incredibly proud of her and everything that she has done to maintain solidarity and to hold America's head up high. Pru, thank you very much.
I was very moved last week to read a story about a man who was pulled from the Ufundi Cooperative Building 36 hours after the bombing. He said he had survived because "the courage of the mind is greater than the body." "I never gave up hope," he said. Those brave words remind us that the strategy of terror is based almost entirely on replacing hope with fear. It is a strategy of intimidation. It is designed to make us forget our aspirations, to hunker down and become passive, and turn against one another. I say there is more real strength in a single tear among the millions shed for the loved ones killed here than there can be in any terrorist act. We grieve because we care for each other, and that is also why we build, and why we have faith that if we work together, we can create a future far better than the past.
Let us choose as those who died here would have had us choose: to honor their memory by comforting their families, caring for the injured, rebuilding their society, and holding the guilty accountable. And to honor their example by redoubling our efforts to forge a future of greater freedom, security, and prosperity not just for some, but for all people. Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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