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UN Chief, others Honour Colleagues Killed in Gaza Conflict

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday led a minute of silence at UN Headquarters in New York in honour of 101 staff killed so far during in Gaza conflict.

According to UN, the number is the largest killed during a conflict in the 78-year history of the organisation.

The fallen colleagues worked for the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, (UNRWA), providing life-saving aid to Gaza’s 2.

2 million people, amid constant bombardment over the past month and a complete siege of the enclave.

They were school principals, teachers, health workers, including a gynaecologist, engineers, support staff and a psychologist.

The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Guterres led the minute silence at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber at the UN headquarters in memory of the departed.

He stood before UN Resident Coordinators from around the world, who are meeting this week, flanked by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and the President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis.

“Today, the family observed a moment of silence to mourn and  honour our colleagues killed in Gaza. Since the start of this conflict, more than 100 staff have lost their lives – the highest number of UN aid workers killed in a conflict in such a short time.

“They will never be forgotten,” he said.

The commemoration at the Secretariat began around 7:30 AM, with the UN flag being raised to half-mast – the sole one flying that day.

Normally all the flags of the UN’s 193 Member States and two observer States – Palestine and Vatican City – are raised each weekday morning, and in alphabetical order, then lowered in the afternoon.

The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, Riyad Mansour who attended the simple ceremony in front of the Secretariat, said the gesture honoured the deceased UNRWA staff members and all “Palestinian martyrs”, including thousands of children killed in the “barbaric war”.

He stressed the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, along with “hundreds of truckloads” of aid, medicine and water.

“And we want to stop the crime against humanity of forced mass transfer…to allow the Palestinian people to stay in the Gaza Strip. It is our homeland.

“We don’t want to live a second Nakba. We want to stay in our homeland and to rebuild the Gaza Strip.”

Mansour also expressed hope for “a political horizon” to end the occupation “so that Palestinian people can live in freedom and dignity in our independent State, with Holy Jerusalem as the capital of our State.”

“UNRWA staff in Gaza appreciate the UN lowering the flag around the world. 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,” Tom White, the agency’s Director in the Gaza Strip, said speaking from Rafah.

UN officials and staff at duty stations worldwide observed a minute of silence in memory of their deceased colleagues, while the UN flag was flown at half-mast.

Meanwhile, the UN Staff Union held a ceremony in the Secretariat lobby where the names of the deceased colleagues were read aloud.

“May they rest in eternal power and peace,”  First Vice-President Francisco Brito said, surrounded by staff members, some of whom held signs that said ‘responsibility to protect,’ ‘stop the killing,’ ‘protect civilians’ and other appeals.

Speaking in Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the UN Office in the Swiss city said their deaths represented the highest number of aid workers killed in UN history in such a short time.

“Thousands of our colleagues continue to work under the UN flag in [the] most risky parts of the world. And let’s pay tribute to their activities, to their work, to their devotion,” she said.

The UNRWA staff members “embodied the spirit of the United Nations, standing on the frontlines of conflict zones to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance and support,” said the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), speaking at its headquarters in Geneva.

“Their unwavering dedication to peace, justice, and the well-being of others serves as a guiding light and a reminder of the importance of our shared mission,” Tedros Ghebreysus told WHO personnel. (NAN)

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Palestinian Death Toll in Gaza Rises to 29,195 Amid Israeli Attacks

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The death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 29,195 with 69,170 others wounded as the Israeli attacks continue, The Gaza-based Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Israeli army had killed 103 Palestinians and wounded 142 others in the Strip during the past 24 hours, the ministry said in a press statement.

It was noted that some victims remained under the rubble amid heavy bombardment and a lack of civil defence and ambulance crews.

Meanwhile, Israeli media outlets said the Israeli army forces were continuing their operations in the north centre and south of the Gaza Strip against Hamas, and have killed many fighters.

The Israeli army announced the death of a 22-year-old soldier as a result of his wounds in the Gaza battles.

The death of the 22-year-old soldier raised the death toll of Israeli soldiers killed in the ground operation to 236.

In addition, the Israeli army revealed a video of Israeli detainees alive in the first days of their detention in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

The video was showing a woman and her two children wrapped in a blanket, taken by gunmen in Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the family had been kidnapped by an organization calling itself the “Mujahideen Brigades.” (Xinhua/NAN)

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Namibian President’s Death a Great Loss to Citizens, Africa, the World —Envoy

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Namibia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Humphrey Geiseb has eulogised the country’s late President Hage Geingob, describing his death as a great loss to the country, Africa, and the world.

Geiseb made this known during a memorial church service in honour of Geingob, held at the Catholic Church of Assumption in Abuja, on Monday.

According to him, a lot of lessons can be learned  from the life of the late president, who was a champion for a better life for disadvantaged persons in Namibia.

Geiseb said: “His death is a great loss to Namibians, Africans and the whole world; we have lost a visionary leader as president and one who was a champion of many causes.

“He championed the cause of the poor, unemployed, elderly women and made sure there was an improvement in the number of women represented in the cabinet, as well as parliament during his tenure. 

“President Geingob was an advocate of the less powerful in the society, through his labour he made sure that those who were less powerful were catered for and also mainstreamed in governance.”

He added that the late president was a good leader, noting that the quantum of condolence messages, which he received from Nigerians were a reflection of  his goodness to the people.

Amb. John Shinkaiye, who paid tribute on behalf of the Association of Retired Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) described Geingob as a Pan-Africanist.

“We pay tribute to the late president and mourn his passing with his family, Africa, the Commonwealth and other organisations in which he played outstanding roles.

“We pray his family be comforted and his departure will be honoured by the continuation of a peaceful and vibrant Namibia.”

Amb. Poscaline Vokiwuge Gerengbo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who paid tribute on behalf of the Group of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ambassadors, said Geingob lived a life worthy of emulation.

“On behalf of SADC Ambassadors in Abuja, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and people of Namibia.

“May you find comfort during this difficult time; our presence here is in admiration of a man who gave up his lifetime dedicated to his country and continent at large,” Gerengbo said.

Also speaking, Amb. Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs,  described Geingob as a brother, confidant and passionate African, who was fearless, confident and engaging.

“His sense of statesmanship was similar to leaders like Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and all those great men and women on whose shoulders we stand today.

“He was an outstanding visionary, who saw the transition of his country from an oppressive apartheid regime to embrace ethnic diversity and create room for younger people to share in the vision of Namibia.

“There are not less than 50 Namibians in Nigeria, while there are not less than 3000 Nigerians in Namibia,” Gambari said.

The event, which was officiated by Rev. Fr. Stephen Omale, members of the diplomatic community, attracted former governors and top government officials, as well as the Namibian community in Nigeria.

Reports says that the late President Geingob died on February  4 at the age of 82. (NAN)

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U.S. Senate Approves Ukraine Aid Package

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The U.S. Senate has approved a 95.3 billion dollar aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after many weeks of negotiations.

The bill has passed 70 to 29 in the Democratic-led chamber.

However, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is far from certain, as former president and 2024 frontrunner Donald Trump had urged Republicans to avoid passing legislation.

Trump said that this would give President Joe Biden a chance to claim a legislative victory.

The two politicians are likely to battle for the presidency, once again in November.

The United States has considered Ukraine’s most important ally in the defence against the Russian invasion, since the start of the war in February 2022.

The Biden administration has provided or pledged military aid totalling more than 44 billion dollars for Kiev.

The aid package passed by the Senate includes around 60 billion dollars in aid for Ukraine, the majority of which is earmarked for military support.

This was roughly the amount that Biden had originally requested.

The draft also includes 14 billion dollars for Israel as well as billions in aid for Taiwan and other partners in the Indo-Pacific. (dpa/NAN)

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