UN Environment Assembly condoles Ethiopian jet crash victims
By Vishal Gulati
Nairobi, March 11 (IANS) An annual assembly of the UN Environment began here on a gloomy note due to the plane crash that killed 157 people, including 22 United Nations staffers and four Indians, most of them on way to the summit.
The UN flag was flying at half-mast at the UN Environment headquarters.
Acting Director-General of UN Office in Nairobi and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Maimunah Mohd Sharif in her opening remark at the assembly that saw delegates from 193 nations, said 22 UN employees were among those who died when the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed near Addis Ababa.
"I wish to express my deepest condolences and prayers to the great nation of Ethiopia and the familiars of passengers and crew members who have lost their life in this tragedy," Sharif told delegates.
Sharif said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had also called her at 11.23 p.m. last night and asked her to convey the condolences.
In a statement ahead of the conference, the UN said it was "deeply saddened by the news of the Ethiopian Airlines accident. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected. We are following developments closely," it said.
Over 4,700 heads of state, business leaders, senior UN officials and civil society representatives, participating in the five-day meeting of the world's top body on the environment, will take decisions that would move global societies to a more sustainable path.
It is the biggest gathering in the Assembly's short history, with attendance almost double the last event in December 2017.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta along with CEOs from major corporations are attending the fourth UN Environment Assembly that began on Monday under the theme "Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production"..
(Vishal Gulati is in Nairobi at the invitation of the UN Environment. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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