United Nations, March 12 (IANS) The UN General Assembly and the Security Council separately observed a minute of silence for the UN staff members who lost their lives in Sunday’s air crash in Ethiopia.
At the beginning of a Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the General Assembly on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a brief statement to mourn the deaths of the UN staff members before the delegates observed a minute of silence, Xinhua reported.
Guterres said at least 21 UN staff members were killed in Sunday’s crash. An undetermined number of other victims were working “close to” the UN.
“A global tragedy has hit close to home, and the United Nations is united in grief. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims, to the government and people of Ethiopia, and all those affected by this disaster.”
“Let us honour the memories of our (dead) colleagues by keeping their spirit of service alive,” he said.
Guterres said the world body is working closely with government officials on the ground in mobilizing assistance, in counselling and giving any other needed support during this difficult time.
The UN Security Council, at the beginning of its first meeting since the crash, also observed a minute of silence for the victims.
“On behalf of the members of the Security Council, I would like to express our deep sorrow for all those who lost their lives yesterday in the tragic air incident in Ethiopia. Passengers lost hailed from over 35 nations and many were part of the UN family,” said Anne Gueguen, France’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, who presided over the meeting on Afghanistan.
She asked participants of the meeting to stand and observe a moment of silence.
“The members of the council expressed their profound sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew who lost their lives,” she said.
Flags at UN Headquarters in New York as well as other agencies across the world are flying in half staff on Monday in memory of the dead.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya. The route was dubbed “UN shuttle” as many UN staff had to travel between Addis Ababa, home of the African Union headquarters, and Nairobi, the UN headquarters in Africa.
The World Food Programme, a UN agency, lost seven of its staff members in the crash that killed all 157 people aboard. Other victims from the UN system included three each from the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Office at Nairobi, two from the International Telecommunication Union, one each from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, the UN Development Programme, the International Organization for Migration, the UN Environment Programme, and the World Bank.