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Remember the Fallen

An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from the capital Addis Ababa on 10 March, killing more than 150 people on board. 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. On 15 March in New York, there was a wreath-laying ceremony to pay tribute to 21 lost colleagues working for 11 organizations of the United Nations system.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony to honour the 115 UN personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty on Monday will take place on 6 May 2019, from 9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber. This year’s Memorial will cover the period from 1 January 2018 through 15 March of this year.
Programme and List of Fallen

Serving the cause of peace in a violent world is a dangerous occupation.  Since the founding of the United Nations, more than 3,500 brave men and women have lost their lives in its service.

Ole Bakke, a Norwegian serving in Palestine, was the first – gunned down in July 1948.  Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, UN Mediator in Palestine, was the second – assassinated two months later. 

The UN’s leadership was cut down in 1961, when Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, along with 15 others, died in a plane crash in the Congo while seeking peace. 

Three decades later, the growing number and scale of UN peacekeeping missions put many more at risk. More lives were lost during the 1990s than in the previous 4 decades combined.

In the new millennium, the UN itself became a target: its premises attacked in Baghdad in 2003, Algiers in 2007, and Kabul in 2009.   

From 2013 to 2017 a consistent increase in peacekeeper fatalities due to violent acts resulted in 195 deaths.

“The greatest tribute we can pay to those who have died is to rededicate ourselves to continuing their work to build and maintain peace. They are the best of all of us and we must always pay tribute to their sacrifice that is a demonstration of the courage and generosity that the United Nations needs to present in today’s world.”

Secretary-General António Guterres
Remarks at the Wreath-laying Ceremony
honouring fallen Peacekeepers
24 May 2017

Natural disasters also claim the lives of those serving the UN.  The Haiti earthquake in 2010 resulted in 102 deaths, the largest single loss in its history.

Here we remember those often forgotten – those who have died in the service of the United Nations – the fallen.