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UN names some of the victims of deadly plane crash

UN News - April 6, 2011
MONUSCO senior management and staff observe a minute of silence in Kinshasa
MONUSCO senior management and staff observe a minute of silence in Kinshasa

The United Nations has released the names of some of the victims of Monday’s plane crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that killed all but one of the 33 people aboard a UN aircraft.

The plane, which had been on a flight from the north-eastern city of Kisangani to the capital, Kinshasa, broke into pieces as it was attempting to land in Kinshasa amid heavy rain and high winds. All four crew members and 28 of the 29 passengers were killed.

UN officials, working with Congolese counterparts, said they have been able to identify all the bodies and are in the process of notifying the victims’ next of kin. An investigation is also under way into the cause of the crash.

The victims include Ahmedou El Becaye Seck, the director of the electoral assistance division of the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), who had been on attachment to the UN mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative Y.J. Choi said in a press statement that Mr. Seck was one of the best electoral experts within the Organization.

“He was an experienced collaborator who had expert knowledge of electoral issues and who made it possible to organize the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire in exemplary conditions,” Mr. Choi said.

The UN also announced the deaths of three MONUSCO staff members: Kristina Bonnez, a senior conduct and discipline officer from Belgium; Jean-Robert Exile, a facilities assistant from Haiti; and Michael Muchiri, a security officer from Kenya.

MONUSCO has scheduled a memorial ceremony to take place this Saturday in Kinshasa, and senior officials from UN Headquarters are expected to attend.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led a wreath-laying ceremony this morning in New York, paying tribute to not only the victims of the plane crash but to UN staff killed in the line of duty in the past week in Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.

“The roster of the fallen, in recent days, has been shocking and profoundly sad,” Mr. Ban said. “We stand in solidarity with their friends and families, united in sorrow, but united also in our mission. Like those who have gone before, they gave their lives to the most noble of causes: helping those in need, working for peace.”

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