UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid tributes to the 485 personnel of the world body who lost their lives in the line of duty last year."We have come together to honor the memory of UN personnel who lost their lives serving our organization over the course of last year... We are united in sorrow and solidarity," Guterres told an annual memorial service, which was held virtually this year.
"Throughout the past year, Covid-19 continued to cause immeasurable suffering and death. And as we did last year, we pay tribute today to our colleagues we lost because of malicious acts, natural disasters and illness. As a result, at this memorial service we mourn the highest number of colleagues, 485 UN personnel, lost in a single year," he said.
Of the 485 dead, 70 were military, one was police, and 414 were civilian personnel. They hailed from 104 nations."Often far from home, without fanfare, they devoted their careers to help others. Unbowed by cynicism, they worked to make a difference, no matter how high the obstacle; no matter how distant the reward; no matter, even, how difficult the challenge," said Guterres.
"They worked to secure peace in forgotten places. They fed the hungry and sheltered those driven from their homes. They helped protect our planet, delivered life-saving assistance, and fought to give children a better future. In short, they upheld the vision and values of the UN.
"The world is in turmoil, scarred by conflicts, threatened by crises and overwhelmed by emergencies. Humanity's only hope is to join forces and work together as one international community. The UN is both the instrument and the expression of that community, he said.
"Our colleagues lost their lives. But their spirit to help others lives on, today and every day. May their memory be a blessing and an inspiration to us all."