United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Mourns Death of Four UN Staff and Two Pilots in Bolivia

08 May, 2011 - Following confirmation by official Bolivian sources on Saturday 7 May, Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has expressed his deep sorrow at the death of four UNODC colleagues and two Bolivian Air Force Personnel killed in a plane crash in the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

"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.  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."

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, in this case, and the World Drug Report.  While the majority of the monitoring is done by satellite, routine flights such as these are often necessary to confirm the accuracy of some parts of the satellite images received.  It was during one of these monitoring flights that the plane went missing on Thursday 5 May.  Despite false sightings of the plane and inaccurate reports over the weekend, its wreckage was found on Saturday 7 May in an isolated area of Bolivia.  The deaths of the four UN staff and two Bolivian military pilots were also confirmed.  The UNODC colleagues who lost their lives were Leonardo Iván Alfaro Santiago, Patricia Olga Delgado Rúa, Mariela Cinthia Moreno Torreblanco and Stephan Javier Campos Ruiz.

Mr. Fedotov also said: "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."

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