No fewer than 19 United Nations officials were aboard the Ethiopian airplane that crashed on Sunday, the UN Department of Safety and Security in Kenya, has said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) lost six staff, the Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) lost two, as did the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in South 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.
Amb. Abiodun Bashua, a retired Nigerian career ambassador, who was until his death, working on contract with the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA), also died in the crash, alongside Canada-based Nigerian professor at Carleton University, Pius Adesanmi.
As a mark of respect IOM said it would “fly its flag at half-mast at its offices on Monday, as will the UN and its agencies”.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after take off from the capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing more than 150 people on board.
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.
The Boeing airliner bound for the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, took off at 8:44 a.m. local time, losing contact with air traffic control at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, just six minutes later, according to news reports.
The plane was reportedly carrying passengers from more than 35 different countries.
The cause of the disaster is not yet known, although weather conditions were reportedly good and the plane went down in a field near Bishoftu, around 35 miles southeast of the capital.
The UN chief conveyed his “heartfelt sympathies and solidarity to the victims’ families and loved ones, including those of United Nations staff members, as well as sincere condolences to the Government and people of Ethiopia”.