By G9ija

United Nations staff in Ethiopia gathered on Monday at the UN Conference Centre for a minute of silence and a flag lowering ceremony in memory of the 19 United Nations personnel killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 Sunday.

The solemn gathering was led by the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Aeneas Chuma.

According to the UN Department of Safety and Security in Kenya, 19 UN staff perished in the crash. The World Food Programme (WFP) lost seven staff, the Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) lost two, as did the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Sudan, World Bank and UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) each lost one staff member. Six staff from the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) were also tragically killed.

“It is a very sad day. The UN lost 19 members of staff across the agencies, funds and programs. The tragedy impacted on many across different nationalities and international organizations. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, close friends and colleagues of all the victims of this crash,” said Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa

On Sunday, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened at the tragic loss of lives”, as reports emerged that UN staff were also among the dead.

Present at the flag raising ceremony were representatives from all the UN agencies resident in Ethiopia.

Support services, including stress counselling are available with a hotline and counsellors on standby to attend to the needs of distressed staff members.