Everything posted here is stricktly the opinion of the poster and shall not be taken to be the official position of UNMIS, UNMISS, UN, the Norwegian Armed Forces or any other organisation whatsoever.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Life and death in the UN

Just as I got ready to leave the office and have dinner, having missed lunch since I ended up talking to the BanBat Commander, a phone call came through...

Special flight coming in. Okay... unusual, but it's happened before.

Six pax*, one corpse. Wait, what?

Corpse, as in dead person. Whoa... that's definitely unusual.

A bit more probing revealed that the UN was transporting the mortal remains of a UN National Staff who had been working in Juba home to his family in Yei so they could have a proper funeral, which would be the right thing to do. A little bit of brainstorming and a talk to the UNMOs who were still in the Team Site and it was clear that dinner was once again on the back burner... We didn't know who the man was, didn't even knew his name**. Didn't matter, he was a colleague, and we were going to be there when he came to our Team Site and show the last respect. Least thing we could do, really.

Long story short; when the helicopter had landed and the coffin - draped in the UN flag - was carried to the waiting car, it was with a honour guard made up of officers from four different continents in hurriedly shined up uniforms and blue berets pulled from the bottom drawer standing to attention... The family didn't say much - only natural considering the circumstance - but the looks we got spoke volumes.

Most of us were fairly muted after the family had left and we walked off the helipad; we all know that death is a natural part of life, but still it isn't something we see on a daily basis in our corner of the world. Makes you ponder...

*) PAX is the common abbreviation for passengers.
**) Still don't.

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