UN chief pays tribute to staff who died in the service of the Organization

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“We are united in pain and solidarity,” said Secretary-General António Guterres, consoling family members and loved ones, who participated in the commemorative event. “Our hearts are with you”.

Throughout the past year, COVID-19 has continued to cause “immeasurable suffering and death”, he said.

The UN chief paid tribute to all of his colleagues who died in service in the past year, whether through malicious acts, natural disasters or disease.

“Together, they represent the magnificent diversity of our UN family,” said the UN chief.

485 staff members died

From 104 countries, 70 were military, one police and 414 civilians, he said.

Their expertise and backgrounds were as varied as the work they did in the United Nations Secretariat, agencies, funds and programs.

“Often away from home, without fanfare, they have dedicated their careers to helping others,” he added.

“Not giving in to cynicism, they worked to make a difference – no matter how high the obstacle; regardless of the distance of the reward; no matter, even, how difficult the challenge is,” Guterres said.

They worked to secure peace in forgotten places; fed the hungry; sheltered those driven from their homes; helped protect our planet; provided life-saving assistance; and fought to give children a better future.

“In short, they supported the vision and values ​​of the United Nations,” said the Secretary-General. “We mourn their loss and cherish their memories.”

After a moment of silent reflection on their life and service, he spoke of a world in turmoil, “marked by conflict, threatened by crisis and overwhelmed by emergencies.”

Their spirit lives on

Hoping to join forces and work together “as one international community”, Mr. Guterres recalled that the UN is both “the instrument and the expression of this community”.

“It is the colleagues we honor today who have embodied that promise and brought that hope to life,” he said.

The Secretary-General pledged UN support for the families of the victims and to review and improve the safety, care and well-being of his staff.

“We are committed to continuing with the same dedication and courage that has defined their work,” he said.

“Our colleagues lost their lives, but their spirit of helping others lives on – today and every day,” the UN chief said, adding that their memory is “a blessing and an inspiration to us all.” .

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