UN staff give blood for Kenya victims, carrying on emergency aid tradition

UN staff give blood for Kenya victims, carrying on emergency aid tradition

Responding to an emergency in Kenya’s capital that left at least 12 people dead, United Nations staff lined up today at Nairobi Hospital to donate blood to help those injured when a five-story building collapsed.

Thirty-seven United Nations staff members, from various organizations, including the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) and the Environment Programme (UNEP), gave blood and both international and local staff joined in, according to a press statement released in Nairobi.

“We are an integral part of the Kenyan community and any calamity that affects a part of it, affects us all. I am pleased to see that we respond not only as an organization, which is our duty, but as individuals as well,” said Klaus Toepfer, Director General of UNON.

“We are all very happy to have been part of this noble cause,” added Katja Nilsson, the UN staff member who organized the emergency blood drive.

Today’s impromptu assistance by UN staff members is the latest example of a tradition of staff giving immediate assistance to victims, as shown by donations of nearly a quarter of a million dollars raised by the UN Staff Relief Committee for Tsunami victims and also by staff who helped out after the flooding in the United States city of New Orleans.

“Whether it’s tsunamis to hurricanes or whatever, UN staff have always stepped forward with either their time or money or both, to help people when they need assistance most,” said Guy Candusso, first vice-president of the UN Staff Union.

“I can tell you that recently staff members went down to clean up debris from Hurricane Katrina, staff have stepped up on more than one occasion,” Mr. Candusso told the UN News Service.

UN staff from all agencies helped raise $245,477 to help the victims of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed around 231,000 people. This money is being used to assist the massive reconstruction effort going on in those countries affected by the disaster.