Flags at United Nations facilities were flown at half mast and representatives partook in a moment of silence in honor of the aid workers who have died in Gaza.
According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), more than 100 of their workers have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7. Staff at UN offices in Geneva, where international law was solidified following the end of World War II, bowed their heads and lit a candle Monday to pay tribute to their fallen colleagues.
“This is the highest number of aid workers killed in the history of our organization in such a short time,” said director-general of the UN in Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya. “We are gathered here today, united in this very symbolic location, to pay respect to our brave colleagues who sacrificed their lives while serving under the United Nations flag."
The UNRWA has continuously warned that their facilities and workers are being targeted in Israeli airstrikes, and their efforts to deliver aid have been impeded by Israeli forces, against international law. Just weeks ago, the agency was forced to halt its aid operations in Gaza after Israel refused to allow in emergency fuel for hospitals.
In a statement Monday, the agency detailed examples of some who were killed in their homes, and others who were killed waiting for food rations.
""These colleagues were among the 13,000 UNRWA staff working in Gaza, and many of them were killed with their families," the agency wrote. "They were teachers, school principals, health workers, including a gynecologist, engineers, support staff, and a psychologist."
The UNRWA added that "UN facilities, including those providing shelter, have not been spared during the war in Gaza." Over 60 of their facilities have been impacted, including 10 which were directly struck or damaged by Israel. Out of those that were hit, 70 percent were below the Wadi Gaza, which Israel itself designated as an evacuation zone for civilians.
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The UNRWA hosts nearly 780,000 people in more than 150 facilities across the Gaza Strip. The agency noted that the refugees "came to these shelters to seek protection and safety under the very same UN flag" that was lowered around the world Monday.
”UNRWA staff in Gaza appreciate the UN lowering the flag around the world," said Tom White, Director of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. "In Gaza however, we have to keep the UN flag flying high as a sign that we are still standing and serving the people of Gaza."
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