On 6 May, the United Nations joined together at Headquarters - and by broadcast to duty stations across the world - for the Secretary-General’s Annual Memorial Service to honour fallen colleagues.
We all paused to recall the 115 United Nations personnel, from 43 nations, who lost their lives between January 2018 and March this year because of their service to the United Nations. The commemorative programme includes their names.
Joined by the President of the Security Council, a representative of the President of the General Assembly, Member States, and staff, Secretary-General António Guterres recognized UN personnel who have departed. He also acknowledged their families who had given so much, several of whom attended the ceremony.
Those who were honoured included staff, police officers and military personnel who died because of their commitment to the United Nations and those it serves.
“It is a sad reminder of the often perilous nature of our work,” said the Secretary‑General. “I am particularly outraged when our humanitarian and peacekeeping colleagues are directly targeted for the work they do.
“We remember, with sadness, our 21 colleagues who perished in the Ethiopian air disaster in March,” he said, referring to the crash which took personnel from the Secretariat, WFP, UNDP, UNHCR, UNEP, FAO, ITU, IOM and the World Bank.
“It is testament to the commitment of the thousands of women and men from around the globe who are prepared to risk all to promote peace and provide assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable and needy people.”
The Secretary‑General led guests in a minute of silence to reflect and honour those who had lost their lives while in the service of the UN.
Accompanied by a violinist, the names of colleagues who had perished were read aloud. A memorial candle was also lit in the presence of an honour guard.
“Our organization, by its very nature, is compelled to operate in some of the world’s most dangerous and unstable environments. Our duty, therefore, is to mitigate, as far as possible, the risks our colleagues face, and to provide adequate support for bereaved families when the worst happens,” said Mr. Guterres.
The Chair of the African Union Commission attended the service. The gathering heard from the President of the Staff Union.
The Annual Memorial Service was instituted in 2011 as a solemn opportunity to remember fallen colleagues and friends, and to reflect upon their legacies.
The Secretariat continues to take steps to improve the Organization’s emergency preparedness and its effectiveness in supporting staff and their families in response to crises. Contact the Emergency Preparedness and Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.