The UN Staff Union called on Tuesday for the release of all investigations of the UN’s helicopter crashes. The union’s committee on staff security made the appeal in a statement released one day after the deadly crash of a UN helicopter in Nepal, killing seven UN staff and three crew members. The committee “calls for full accounting of the causes behind the accident,” said the statement. Noting that aircraft safety issues present a risk to UN personnel serving in the field, the committee said that since 1997,there have been 10 fatal helicopter crashes involving UN or UN contracted helicopters, in which a total of at least 90 personnel have died. The most tragic helicopter crash occurred in Sierra Leone on June 29, 2004, killing 24 peacekeepers and other personnel.
Calling for the results of all previous investigations to be made public, the committee said that “the families and colleagues of the victims have a right to know the cause of these accidents and if adequate air safety standards were met.” Mourning the victims killed in Monday’s crash in Nepal, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that “these colleagues lost their lives while serving the United Nations and the cause of peace in Nepal.”
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim also expressed his sadness and sent his “sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” said Janos Tisovszky, Kerim’s spokesman. “The tragic accident is a sad reminder of the fact that UN personnel have to operate in dangerous conditions and face a multitude of risks during their daily work,” Kerim was quoted as saying.
The helicopter was returning to the capital from the guerrilla cantonment site at Sindhuli when it lost contact. The victims consist of four arms monitors from Gambia, Indonesia, South Korea and Sweden, as well as three national staff from Nepal and the three-member crew from Russia and Belarus.