The United Nations and other humanitarian and environmental organizations mourned the loss of 46 staff in a crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner bound from Addis Ababa for Nairobi that killed all 157 people aboard.
Almost a third of all the fatalities from the crash were people employed by 28 international organizations, according to figures compiled by Arete News.
The United Nations reported losing 21 staff that worked for its affiliated agencies; other international organizations reported losing 25 staff.
“A global tragedy has hit close to home and the United Nations is united in grief,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
“Our colleagues were women and men, junior professionals and seasoned officials, hailing from all corners of the globe and with a wide range of expertise,” he said. “They all had one thing in common. A spirit to serve the people of the world and make it a better place overall.”
The U.N.’s World Food Program, or WFP, lost seven staff, the most of any single organization. A non-U.N. organization, Catholic Relief Services, lost four. The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, and U.N. Office in Nairobi, or UNON, each lost three staff, the U.N. reported on a memorial page.
WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour it was a heartbreaking loss.
“You know, we lose people out in the field, on the battlefields, natural disasters, almost every single day but we don’t expect something like this. And in the U.N. system we’ve lost over 20 people. At the World Food Program, we lost seven. It’s just devastating,” he said. “This hits home in a way that you just can’t imagine, when seven of your friends, your brothers, your sisters, your colleagues, go down in a crash like this.”
28 international organizations / 46 staff lost (Last update: 09:00 GMT 27 April 2019)
- African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe—Karim Saafi, 38, of France/Tunisia
- Africa Tremila—Carlo Spini, 75; Gabriella Vigiani, 74; and Matteo Ravasio, 50; all of Italy
- African Union—Susan Abu Faraj and Asmat Arnasa, both of Egypt
- African Union Mission in Somalia—Christine Alalo, 49, of Uganda
- Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators—Sarah Auffret, 29, of France/U.K.
- CARE—Immaculate Achieng Odero of Kenya
- Catholic Relief Services—Sara Chalachew; Getnet Alemayehu; Sintayehu Aymeku; and Mulusew Alemu; all of Ethiopia
- Civil Rights Defenders—Josefin Ekermann, 30, of Sweden
- Computer Aid International—Anne Musyoki-Munyao of Kenya
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit—1 female staff
- Food and Agriculture Organization—Joanna Toole, 36, of U.K.
- International Committee for the Development of Peoples—Paolo Dieci, 58, of Italy
- International Telecommunications Union—Maygenet Worku Abebe of Ethiopia; Marcelino Tayob of Mozambique
- Norwegian Red Cross—Karoline Aadland, 28, of Norway
- Norwegian Refugee Council—Clémence Boutant-Willm, 44, of France; Sam Pegram, 25, of U.K.
- Ocean Wise—Danielle Moore, 24, of Canada
- Save the Children—Tamirat Mulu Demessie, 48, of Ethiopia
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency—Alexandra Wachtmeister, 50, of Sweden
- U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia—Oliver Vick, 45, of U.K.
- U.N. Development Program—Shikha Garg, 32, of India
- U.N. Environment Program—Victor Shing Ngai Tsang, 37, of China
- U.N. Economic Commission of Africa—Abiodun Oluremi Bashua, 68, of Nigeria
- U.N. Migration—Anne-Katrin Feigl, 29, of Germany
- U.N. Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees—Nadia Adam Abaker Ali, 40, of Sudan; Jessica Hyba, 43, of Canada; Jackson Musoni, 32, of Rwanda
- U.N. Office in Nairobi—Susan Mohamed Abufarag of Egypt; Graziella de Luis Ponce, 63, of Mexico; Esmat Adelsattar Taha Orensa of Egypt
- World Bank—Max Thabiso Edkins, 35, of Germany/South Africa
- World Council of Churches—Rev. Norman Tendis, 51, of Germany
- World Food Program—Ekata Adhikari, 28, of Nepal; Maria Pilar Buzzetti, 30, of Italy; Virginia Chimenti, 26, of Italy; Harina Hafitz, 59, of Indonesia; Zhen-Zhen Huang, 46, of China; Michael Eoghan Ryan, 39, of Ireland; Djordje Vdovic, 53, of Serbia
Sources: United Nations, international organizations, social media
35 nations, a world of connections
The crash killed 32 Kenyans and 18 Canadians. Nine Ethiopians died and eight each from China, Italy and the United States were killed. Seven people each were killed from France and Britain, and six from Egypt and five from Germany died, the airline reported. The victims came from 35 countries overall.
Preliminary data from the almost brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 showed an erratic flight path. The pilot reported difficulty and wanted to return to Addis Ababa. The plane, which was only four months old, crashed minutes after takeoff.
Red Cross workers and forensic experts searched through debris at the crash site near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, 60 kilometers from the Ethiopian capital, looking for remains, belongings and evidence.
The single-aisle plane was the same model as the Lion Air jet that crashed into the sea off Jakarta, Indonesia carrying 189 people aboard last October, raising safety questions about the world’s most popular commercial airliner. Investigators in the Indonesian crash were examining whether a sensor and computer forced the plane’s nose down.
The United Nations flew the U.N. flag at half-mast and held some moments of silence around the world to mark the tragedy. Ethiopia observed a day of national mourning. Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which lost two staff in the crash, mourned the loss of humanitarian co-workers.
“We are a family of humanitarians that have no one to lose,” said Egeland, who formerly headed the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “We must now hold together and do all we can to support the families and the teams who lost their nearest and dearest.”
Exclusive: @WFPChief David Beasley spoke with me from Ethiopia, where seven of his colleagues were just killed in a plane crash.
“Our staff, they’re tough.”
“They’re dealing with war and tragedies and devastation and hunger and poverty. But this hits home.” pic.twitter.com/J3OTrkjaB4
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) March 11, 2019
The Addis Ababa-Nairobi shuttle
The flight itself — a well-traveled route between Ethiopia’s capital, home to the African Union, U.N. Economic Commission for Africa and a cluster of other international organizations, and Kenya’s capital, another major U.N. hub that is headquarters to U.N. Environment and U.N. Habitat — is so often flown by international staff, that it is sometimes referred to colloquially as the U.N. shuttle.
Some passengers were flying to Nairobi to attend the next-day opening of the U.N. Environment Assembly, which was created in 2012 to serve as the world’s highest-level environmental decision-making body.
“The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 was a terrible loss for the United Nations, for our member states and for the environmental community,” said Joyce Msuya, U.N. Environment’s acting executive director.
“The environmental community is in mourning today,” she said. “Many of those that lost their lives were en-route to provide support and participate in the U.N. Environment Assembly. We lost U.N. staff, youth delegates traveling to the assembly, seasoned scientists, members of academia and other partners.”
The environmental community is in mourning today. As we begin the fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, we came together to remember those we have lost in the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight. https://t.co/DEIWdW2tQt pic.twitter.com/WoVagVvxlS
— Joyce Msuya (@JoyceMsuya) March 11, 2019
Humanitarian aid and a host of other causes
Other humanitarian aid organizations, such as U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, also lost several employees. Carlo Spino, president of Africa Tremila, an Italian humanitarian aid organization, died in the crash, as did his wife, Gabriella Vigiani, and Matteo Ravasio, the organization’s treasurer.
The International Committee for the Development of Peoples, or CISP, said one of its founders, Paolo Dieci, died in the crash. The Italian aid group partners with UNICEF in Kenya, Libya and Algeria.
“The world of international cooperation has lost one of its most brilliant advocates and Italian civil society has lost a precious point of reference,” CISP said in a statement.
A well-known Italian archaeologist, Sebastiano Tusa, was aboard the plane headed to Nairobi, planning to take part in a UNESCO-sponsored project, according to the Italian government. Like so many of the victims, he was remembered as a special person who worked in exotic locales and was highly motivated to make the world a better place.
“He exuded life and every discovery thrilled him,” said a friend and colleague, Peter Campbell, an underwater archaeologist. “He was headed to a maritime arch conference in Nairobi.”