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By Yuliya Talmazan

The United Nations lost 19 staff members in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people, the organization confirmed Sunday.

Some of the victims were believed to be heading to a meeting of the world’s top environmental body taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, this week.

Those who died were honored by delegates with a moment of silence as the U.N. Environment Assembly kicked off Monday morning.

Among the U.N. personnel killed in the crash are seven representatives of its World Food Programme and six staff members from the U.N. office in Nairobi.

"This has taken us by shock,” said Siddharth Chatterjee, the U.N. resident coordinator in Nairobi. “Every person that lost his or her life has a loved one left behind who will be mourning this loss forever."

The U.N. flag flies at half-staff in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Authorities confirmed that the plane was carrying passengers from more than 30 countries. They included 18 Canadians; eight apiece from China, the United States and Italy; and seven each from France and Britain.

One of the victims, Cedric Asiavugwa, was a law student at Georgetown University in Washington. Asiavugwa was originally from Kenya.

The International Organization for Migration, a related organization to the U.N., said Sunday that staff member Anne-Katrin Feigl, was among the victims. The German national was based in Sudan and en route to a training course in Nairobi.

Catherine Northing, chief of the IOM mission in Sudan, called Feigl “an extremely valued colleague."

"The staff are in a state of shock," Northing said. "One colleague said today, 'she was always bringing happiness to us.' Her tragic passing has left a big hole and we will all miss her greatly."

José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, tweeted his “heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the bereaved families,” saying that one staff member was among the victims. ITV News confirmed British national Joanna Toole, who worked for the FAO, had been killed in the crash.

David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme, tweeted: "As we mourn, let us reflect that each of these WFP colleagues were willing to travel and work far from their homes and loved ones to help make the world a better place to live. That was their calling, as it is for the rest of the WFP family."

High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the U.N. refugee agency had suffered a "huge loss." Two UNHCR workers were killed in the crash.

Caroline Radnofsky, Associated Press and Reuters contributed.