Home International UN observes minute’s silence for 101 staff killed in Gaza

UN observes minute’s silence for 101 staff killed in Gaza

139

United Nations workers observed a minute’s silence on Monday to honour the more than 100 employees killed in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war began last month as UN flags flew at half mast.

The United Nations flag flies at half-mast at the European headquarters, honouring the more than 100 employees killed in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war began last month, in Geneva, Switzerland, November 13, 2023. Picture: Reuters, Denis Balibouse

GENEVA – United Nations workers observed a minute’s silence on Monday to honour the more than 100 employees killed in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war began last month as UN flags flew at half mast.

Staff at UN offices in Geneva bowed their heads as a candle was lit in memory of the 101 employees of UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza.

“This is the highest number of aid workers killed in the history of our organisation in such a short time,” said Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations in Geneva.

“We are gathered here today, united in this very symbolic location, to pay respect to our brave colleagues who sacrificed their lives while serving under the United Nations flag.”

UNRWA has said that some staff members were killed while queuing for bread while others were killed along with their families in their homes in Israel’s aerial and ground war against Hamas in response to the October 7 cross-border assault by the Islamist group.

Besides Gaza, the next most deadly conflict for UN aid workers was Nigeria in 2011 when a suicide bomber attacked their Abuja office during an Islamist insurgency, killing 46.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths in densely populated Gaza, saying the group uses the population as human shields. Hamas denies the charge.

“I would like to say that we are really facing very challenging times for multilateralism, for the world,” Valovaya said. “But the United Nations is more relevant than ever.”

Established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA provides public services including schools, health care and aid. Many of UNRWA’s 5,000 staff working in Gaza are Palestinian refugees themselves.

– REUTERS

Previous articleEU condemns Hamas for using ‘hospitals as human shields’, urges Israeli restraint
Next articleFormer UK PM Cameron in surprise return to government as foreign secretary