US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed his condolences for the more than 70 UN staff that have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. 

The Israel-Hamas war has resulted in the highest number of UN workers killed in a conflict anywhere in the world in such a short period of time, the Commissioner of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, announced earlier this week. 

“It’s both a pleasure and important to be here at UNRWA, which is doing extraordinary work every single day as a lifeline to Palestinians in Gaza and at great, at great cost,” Blinken said during a visit to UNRWA headquarters in Amman, Jordan on Saturday. “More than 70 members of UNRWA employees have lost their lives. Thousands are putting their lives on the line every single day, to show up at work to help people,” the US’s top diplomat continued. 

Lazzarini, who oversees the “largest humanitarian operation” in Gaza, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that 72 staff members have now been killed in Gaza.  Blinken told reporters Saturday that he holds “extraordinary admiration” for the “courage” shown by UNRWA employees, stressing that the purpose of his visit was to “talk to people in the field and to express our own ongoing support for this work.” 

“So we just say again, our condolences to those who lost their lives in trying to help others and our admiration to those who continue this line of work,” he said in his concluding remarks.

Some context: UN staffers in Gaza are working lengthy days as dozens of UN-operated schools provide shelter for civilians fleeing Israel’s bombardment.UNRWA said on Friday that nearly 50 of its buildings and assets across Gaza have been impacted by the conflict, with some being “directly hit.”

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