Nairobi, Kenya - An assembly of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) opened in Nairobi Monday under a dark cloud cast by the plane crash that killed 157 people, including 22 United Nations staff, many heading for the annual event.
Delegates arrived with the UN flag flying at half-mast, and the flags of all UN nations that usually adorn the UNEP headquarters having been taken down.
As they wondered aloud who among their colleagues may have been on board the ill-fated Boeing, delegates hugged and comforted one another, and observed a minute's silence at the meeting's start.
According to Maimunah Sharif, head of UN Habitat, at least 22 UN employees were among those who perished when the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed early Sunday just six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.
"I stand before you on the first day of the UN Environment Assembly, which has officially commenced today in the wake of this tragedy," she told delegates.