Diplomats Pay Tribute to Former UN Employee

UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha and U.S. Charge d'Affaires Scott Rauland today visited the Military Cemetery in Minsk to pay tribute to Ruth Waller, one of the first UN staff members who lost their lives in service to humanity. Ruth Waller came to Minsk in 1946 to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to facilitate, coordinate, and provide international assistance to help Belarus recover.

UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha and U.S. Charge d'Affaires Scott Rauland today visited the Military Cemetery in Minsk to pay tribute to Ruth Waller, one of the first UN staff members who lost their lives in service to humanity.

Ruth Waller came to Minsk in 1946 to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to facilitate, coordinate, and provide international assistance to help Belarus recover. Ruth was a member of the mission and was responsible for providing administrative support to UNRRA. She died of pneumonia which then developed into meningitis, after rescuing three Belarusian boys who were drowning in a lake.

Speaking at the solemn ceremony Sanaka Samarasinha said that “The work that Ruth Waller has been started many years ago is not over. For the first time since the Second World War, we had more than 50 million refugees and displaced people around the world in 2013. I suspect that 2014 will be even worst due to conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Africa, and now — in neighbouring Ukraine. This means that our work is not complete. I’d like to remind the importance of working together to help to those who need our help — to those displaced people, to those refugees, to those who fighting to stay alive."

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was created in November 9, 1943. Its mission was to provide economic assistance to European nations after Second World War and to repatriate and assist the refugees who would come under Allied control. The US government funded close to half of UNRRA's budget.

In 1947 its tasks were taken over by a successor organization, the International Refugee Organization. In 1948 the new Refugee Organization was taking care of 643,000 displaced persons.

Finally, the UN functions of UNRRA were transferred to several UN agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization.

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