3 Filipino UN personnel who died in line of duty honored

MANILA – The United Nations has recently honored three Filipino UN staff members who lost their lives while in the line of duty amid the pandemic.

In a statement dated May 11, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) named the three as Joanna Abaya, who served at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Dr. Ronald Santos, at the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI); and Maria Luisa Almirol Castillo, at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

During a memorial service held virtually at the UN Headquarters in New York on May 6, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at least 336 UN personnel from 82 countries, including civilian, military and police, paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace or coronavirus disease 2019 related circumstances in 2020, the highest number of UN personnel fatalities recorded in UN history.

“Those dear colleagues were a reflection of the diversity and richness of experience of the United Nations,” he said.

Undersecretary-General Atul Khare of the UN Department of Operational Support, who hosted the event, said the virtual memorial service provided an opportunity for families and colleagues across the world to gather and remember their loved ones.

“Our fallen colleagues will be more than ever united in our hearts and we offer our love and prayers to their families and friends,” he said.

The names of the late Filipino staff members alongside their 333 colleagues were read one-by-one by UN staff members, Marie-Angle Diègue and Alessandro Susini. Australian-American violinist Adele Anthony also graced the solemn commemoration by playing select solo violin sonatas by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“The Philippines is grateful for the remarkable work of these Filipinos in the United Nations and for their sacrifices,” Ambassador Enrique Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said. “Their legacy and dedication will serve as an inspiration for all of us.”

At least 657 Filipinos, inclusive of officers and uniformed personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, are currently serving in the UN both in the headquarters and the field, the DFA said. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA – northboundasia.com