Nepal, UN "Regrets Altercation" With Media, Seizes Film of Crash Site,
Won't Name Contractor
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- Four
days after a helicopter serving the UN Mission in Nepal went down,
killing all of those aboard, the UN in New York was unable or unwilling
to even state what company the helicopter came from. Inner City Press
has adduced that it is from the Russian firm Vertical T. A
local report says
that photographs of the crash site were confiscated: "asking
the news crew not to shoot images of the crash site, UNMIN staff also
took tapes of the crash site already shot by the media persons into
At Friday's noon briefing at UN
headquarters, Inner City Press asked again for confirmation of the name
of the contractor, and for a response to the reports of crack-down on
journalists. While still refusing any procurement information, the UN
spokesperson told Inner City Press by e-mail that "we
regret that there was an altercation between members of the UNMIN team
and media at the site of the helicopter crash, when members of the UNMIN
team were attempting to recover the bodies of colleagues and to cover
them before filming."
While the UN's use of
always sounds lofty,
the Federation of Nepalese Journalists and the International Press
Institute's Nepal chapter both denounced the UN's "manhandling and
misbehavior" and the confiscation of the tape of cameraman Bhola Thapa
of Nepal TV.
the cause may have been a rocket-propelled grenade. Still the UN not
said who will investigate the crash. The Nepali Minister of Civil
Aviation, on whose web site it is reported that there was at least one
previous UNMIN helicopter incident
that went uninvestigated,
generally makes public copies of its crash reports. Will that happen in
this case? The secrecy to date, while par for the UN course, is
inappropriate in this case.
After earlier footage
seized, photo of crash site with UNMIN personnel
Vertical T, sometimes
spelled Vertikal T, which has amassed some 127 million in UN contracts,
for some. Involved in this contracting has been the head of the UN's
Field Procurement Section, Dmitry Dovgopoly, who is also central to the
UN's award of no-bid contracts to military contractor Lockheed Martin.
During the General Assembly's questioning of the $250 million
non-competitive contract to Lockheed for Darfur peacekeeping camps,
Inner City Press is told by sources that Procurement official Dmitry
Dovgopoly had Ukraine's ambassador reach out to other countries'
Permanent Representatives, urging them to cool off on inquiries into the
Lockheed deal, given Dovgolopy's involvement.
this week, Inner City Press asked Dovgopoly to comment on another
procurement irregularity in which he is involved, the
changing of the final Request for
Proposals for the follow-on Darfur infrastructure contract after a
request from the French mission to the UN.
Dovgopoly did not respond. And the UN spokesperson's office, even four
days after the crash in Nepal, could or would not provide the name of
the helicopter owner.
A Vertical T
helicopter was previously shot down by the Taliban in Afghanistan, click
for that. Why would the UN have an interest in downplaying possible
hostile fire at one of its helicopters in Nepal? Perhaps, one observer
said, the UN can be too committed to a peace process -- or, as
now explained, too committed to its version of acceptable journalism --
to the point of confiscating evidence or worse.
* * *
These reports are
usually also available through
Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.
here for a
AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.
for an earlier
piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's
$200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com -