DUBAI: The High Commissioner for the United Nations’ Refugee agency (UNHCR) has cancelled a scheduled visit to the UAE, following the death of 19 UN staff members who were in the Ethiopian flight to Nairobi that crashed on Sunday.
Filippo Grandi flew back to Geneva from Abu Dhabi on Sunday after hearing that two staff members of the UNHCR were among the 157 who died when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plummeted to the ground shortly after take-off.
“It is with great sadness and shock that I have learned today that UNHCR colleagues were among the passengers of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 which crashed in Ethiopia this morning,” Grandi said in a statement.
“UNHCR has suffered today a huge loss. Our deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of our colleagues and all others we have so tragically lost today,” he added.
The UN high commissioner was scheduled to speak at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) conference on Tuesday.
The other 17 UN members that were killed were part of the other UN agencies including the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The airline said the flight had passengers from at least 35 countries, some of whom were aid workers for other humanitarian organizations.
Although the cause of the crash is not yet known, Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice, the airline said on its Twitter account on Monday.