A year has passed since the tragic death of Luca Attanasio, Ambassador of Italy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Luca was killed in an ambush near the city of Goma, along with Vittorio Iacovacci, a carabiniere, and Mustapha Milambo, a driver from the World Food Programme.
We all still feel the keen emotions caused by their loss. Over these 12 months, thousands of people have expressed their sympathy and sent their condolences for Luca. Anyone who had the good fortune to meet Luca Attanasio has special memories of him. He was a sunny-natured and generous person, a clever and gifted diplomat. Luca was enthusiastic about his work, always curious and ready to engage in dialogue. This can be seen in the passion and courage with which he tackled all of his diplomatic positions, in Rome and abroad, and often in remote and difficult places.
Africa was the continent where he spent nearly half of his 20-year diplomatic career, in Casablanca, Abuja and Kinshasa, displaying uncommon versatility and tenacity. In recognition of Luca’s exemplary service, in December 2021 I awarded him the honorary title of Ambassador. Italy’s pride and gratitude to him were reiterated by President Mattarella, who awarded him the Order of the Star of Italy.
This Ministry continues to pay homage to Luca’s memory. Last December we named after him the room in which young candidates sit the final oral exam for entry to a diplomatic career. In that room, where candidates’ recruitment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is formally confirmed, Luca too took the first steps in his diplomatic life. We want the new generations of diplomats, from their very first contact with the Farnesina, to be inspired by his experience and be accompanied by his smile.
We have also dedicated to the memory of Ambassador Attanasio the economic and trade promotion plan for Italian companies in sub-Saharan Africa, which grew in part from proposals made by him. The scholarships for the 2021-2022 academic year for students from Morocco, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also dedicated to him. Two initiatives that are in line with Luca’s professional life and story, which were always inspired by the values of justice, social inclusion and friendship among peoples.
In his career, he worked each day for the most vulnerable people. With his wife Zakia he undertook many initiatives, such as the Mama Sofia Foundation, whose aim was to enable people to lead their lives with dignity.
Ambassador Attanasio’s dedication to the African continent reflected Italy’s commitment to Africa. This has traditionally been channelled through development cooperation but also takes the form of a renewed political commitment, concisely conveyed in the “Partnership with Africa” strategic document published by the Farnesina in 2020.
In the spirit of that document, at the third Italy-Africa “Meetings with Africa” Ministerial Conference, which took place on 7-8 October 2021, we strengthened our ties with that continent by hosting ministers from African countries, regional organisations, and personalities from the public and private sectors. Participants discussed new initiatives to underpin our partnership, notably on crucial issues such as the energy transition, renewable energy, climate change and sustainable development.
I think that the best way to continue to honour the memory of Luca Attanasio and ensure that his untiring dedication continues to inspire our work is our commitment to go on investing energy and resources to help Africa grow and develop sustainably and in keeping with its potential.
Together with all of the people working at the Farnesina, which for many years was Luca’s home, I wish to extend an affectionate embrace to his wife, Zakia, and to his children, his parents and his sister.
Alongside our work to take forward the diplomatic commitment in which Luca believed, we will make every effort, as citizens and as representatives of the institutions, to uncover the truth about his death and the deaths of Vittorio Iacovacci and Mustapha Milambo. We owe that to them and to their families. We owe it to all those who, day by day, with passion and dedication, place themselves at the service of Italy, here at home and abroad.
Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation