UN staff in Afghanistan mourn over 100 colleagues killed in Gaza

United Nations staff in Afghanistan observed a minute of silence on Monday, lowering the UN flag to half-mast as they mourned the loss of more than 100 colleagues killed in Gaza, according to UNAMA.

UNAMA declared this the highest number of UN aid workers killed in a conflict in the organization’s history.

The casualties occurred since the commencement of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, making it the deadliest conflict for the UN within a brief timeframe, as reported by the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) on Friday.

The fatalities include UN employees killed while waiting for bread and others who perished with their families in their homes during Israel’s intensive aerial and ground operations against Hamas in densely populated Gaza. These actions were in response to the October 7 cross-border assault by the Islamist group on Israeli communities.

UNRWA, established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, provides public services such as schools, healthcare, and aid. Many of its 5,000 staff in Gaza are Palestinian refugees.

The toll surpasses previous instances, with the ongoing South Sudan conflict claiming 33 UN staff lives, and in 2009, 33 were killed in Afghanistan during U.S. troops’ battles with the Taliban, according to the Aid Worker Security Database, a U.S.-funded platform compiling reports on major security incidents affecting aid workers.