8 May 2011 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today voiced their deep sadness after the death of four UNODC members of staff and two military pilots who were killed in a plane crash in Bolivia while a flight to monitor coca production.
They sent their sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the UNODC staff and the Bolivian military pilots.
“Their dedication to the fight against narcotic drugs will be a lasting legacy and is an inspiration to us all,” the Secretary-General said in his condolence message.
All six people on board died when the plane crashed on Thursday northeast of the Bolivian capital, La Paz.
“Our thoughts go out to the families and colleagues of both the UN staff and Bolivian military pilots who were lost in this tragic crash,” said Yury Fedotov, the UNODC Executive Director.
“Those UN staff who perished were carrying out some of the most important work for our Office which depends on their essential monitoring work to help in the preparation of national Bolivian crop monitoring reports and UNODC's most important publication, the World Drug Report,” said Mr. Fedotov. “I would like to express my sincere condolences to all those affected by this unfortunate news. It is a tragic blow to our Office and to the Bolivian nation,” he added.
UNODC routinely monitors the production of narcotic crops in several parts of the world from Asia to South America in order to prepare data on narcotic crop production for national monitoring reports such as the Bolivia Coca Survey and the World Drug Report.
While the majority of the monitoring is done by satellite, routine flights are often necessary to confirm the accuracy of some parts of the satellite images received.
It was during one of those monitoring flights that the plane went missing on Thursday. Despite false reports that the plane had been sighted, the wreckage was found yesterday in a remote area of Bolivia.
The deceased UNODC officials are Leonardo Iván Alfaro Santiago, Patricia Olga Delgado Rúa, Mariela Cinthia Moreno Torreblanco and Stephan Javier Campos Ruiz.
“It is the work of dedicated UN staff members such as Iván, Patricia, Mariela and Stephan that makes the Organization what it is today and it is so very unfortunate that they have had to give their lives to carry out such important work,” added Mr. Fedotov.
UNODC operates in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of field offices. The agency tackles drug trafficking, corruption, money laundering and organized crime, among other issues.
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