On January 30 I wrote a post regarding sexual violence by private contractors. Though the most flagrant instances have occurred in the past, it is still a problem.
Although I was not singling out any company in particular I did mention DynCorp because it served as the inspiration for the movie The Whistleblower that came out last year. This relates to the infamous cases of sex trafficking and slavery in Bosnia back in the Balkan wars of the nineties.
Okay, stuff happens. Although other things have happened with DynCorp, more specifically the DynCorp International division, over the years, it is a big company and employs lots of people. One should not tar every company with the sins of a past employee.
As big corporations go DynCorp, in my limited experience, is very decent. Full disclosure: years ago, I worked three years for one of its arms control units, not DynCorp International, and found the people there highly professional and very ethical.
Still, my past post evidently did not go down well at DynCorp HQ. I was emailed a response by one of their vice presidents taking me to task for my presumed sins. At the request of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in London, which had listed my post in their weekly update, they emailed a similar response to them.
I fully understand that DynCorp wants to put the best possible face on this issue but I feel its response is a little too self-serving so let me just do some parsing of some of its statement.
With regard to the movie it writes,
‘The Whistleblower’ centers on allegations of human trafficking, a serious crime and global problem. Although the Company was never contacted by the filmmakers to obtain even a basic description of past work in Bosnia, to fact-check allegations or to obtain our position on these issues, when the Company reached out to the representatives for the filmmakers to gain more information about the movie, we were informed that the film, in the distributor’s words, ‘is a fictionalized, dramatic presentation.
I realize that in times long past it was popular to kill the messenger but that is supposedly out of fashion nowadays. DynCorp seems to think the filmmaker, who is Larysa Kondracki, had an obligation to contact them to get their spin. She did not…..
Some 242 aid workers were killed in 2010, up from 91 a decade before. Is ‘humanitarian space’ shrinking, or are aid groups spreading out to more conflict zones than before?
Christian Science Monitor February 10, 2012
Aid workers may be an idealistic sort, but they’re not naive. They know the risks of crossing oceans or pressing through to remote areas to build tent cities, run feeding stations, or treat the sick in what are by definition the most dangerous and least hospitable corners of the planet.
In the decade since Sept. 11, those risks have only increased as members of the US military and other government agencies have joined the ranks of those doing humanitarian aid work.
In 2010, some 242 aid workers were killed, up from 91 a decade before, according to a survey by Humanitarian Outcomes, underscoring how many attacks on aid workers have become intentional, rather than a side effect of war. It’s an environment in which the Navy SEALs may be called upon for help, as they were in the recent rescue of two aid workers from the grip of Somali kidnapping gangs.
Yet while individual cases – in a Yemeni town, a region of Sudan, a district of Somalia – may give the impression that aid groups are on the retreat, the reverse is true. Humanitarian aid budgets by donor nations have grown 10-fold between 1998 and 2008. And while the work has become much more dangerous, aid workers are honing their ability to negotiate with unsavory regimes and find new paths to achieve traditional humanitarian goals.
Among the first aid groups to go into conflict zones or disaster areas, and the last to leave, is Doctors Without Borders, known primarily by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières. But even MSF has had its staffers expelled from Sudan and Sri Lanka and pulled its staff from aid camps in some of the neediest sections of Somalia and the northern Kenyan border because of attacks in recent years.
“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the
States loses a member of the United States military,
then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’
but when the United States loses a contractor . . .
then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . .
As a result, the true cost in lives and money
of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”
from Joshua Munns case
While the DPMO shows only 4 Americans left behind in Iraq
Below is a chart showing the name, incident date, an expired link to an incident report (SIGACT), and status of those Americans known to be missing and/or held hostage in Iraq in table format. The chart shows an estimated 18 missing Americans of whom, the names of 6 are unknown. An additional 2 American’s names are known but the date of incident is not.
Text of available SIGACT reports are posted at SIGACT Reports of Americans Missing in Iraq.
Names missing from the chart below: Hussain al-Zurufi and Bob Hamze
|Date||Name – incident report||Status|
|1||Oct 9, 2003||Kirk von Ackermann||missing||1|
|2||Apr 9, 2004||Thomas Hamill (link expired) Convoy Attack||escaped|
|3||Apr 9, 2004||Nicholas Evan Berg||deceased|
|4||Apr 9, 2004||William Bradley||deceased|
|5||Apr 9, 2004||Pfc Keith Matthew Maupin||deceased|
|6||Apr 9, 2004||Timothy E Bell Story of Convoy Attack||missing||2|
|7||May 3, 2004||Aban Elias||missing||3|
|8||Aug 13, 2004||Micah Garen||released|
|9||Sept 16, 2004||Jack Henlsey||deceased|
|10||Sept 16, 2004||Olin Eugene Armstrong Jr||deceased|
|11||Oct 10, 2004||Paul Taggart||released|
|12||Nov 1, 2004||Roy Hallums||released|
|13||Nov 2, 2004||Dean Sadek||missing||4|
|14||Apr 11, 2005||Jeffrey Ake||missing||5|
|15||May 17, 2005||Neenus Y. Khoshaba – incident?||missing||6|
|16||Aug 2, 2005||Steven Charles Vincent||deceased|
|17||Sept 27, 2005||Abbas Kareem Naama (Tim)||missing||7|
|18||Nov 25, 2005||Ronald Alan Schulz||deceased|
|19||Nov 26, 2005||Thomas William Fox||deceased|
|20||Dec 2, 2005||unknown #1||missing||8|
|21||Jan 7, 2006||Jill Carroll||released|
|22||Jun 16, 2006||Pfc Kristian Menchaca||deceased|
|23||Jun 16, 2006||Pfc Thomas Tucker||deceased|
|24||Oct 23, 2006||Sgt Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie||missing||9|
|25||Nov 16, 2006||Jonathon Michael Cote||deceased|
|26||Nov 16, 2006||Paul Christopher Johnson-Reuben||deceased|
|27||Nov 16, 2006||Joshua Mark Munns||deceased|
|28||Nov 16, 2006||John Roy Young||deceased|
|29||Nov 27, 2006||Maj Troy Lee Gilbert (deceased)||missing||10|
|30||Jan 5, 2007||Ronald J Withrow||deceased|
|31||Jan 27, 2007||unknown #2 – incident?||missing||11|
|32||Jan 27, 2007||unknown #3 – incident?||missing||12|
|33||Feb 1, 2007||unknown #4 Iraqi-American||missing||13|
|34||Mar 3, 2007||Adnan al-Hilawi||missing||14|
|35||Apr 25, 2007||unknown #5||missing||15|
|36||May 12, 2007||Sgt Alex Ramon Jimenez||deceased|
|37||May 12, 2007||Pfc Byron W Fouty||deceased|
|38||May 25, 2007||unknown #6||missing||16|
|39||Aug 17, 2007||unknown #7||missing||17|
|40||summer 2008||unknown #8||missing||18|
|41||May 21, 2009||Jim Kitterman||deceased|
|42||Jan 23, 2010||Issa T Salomi||released|
LONDON, 10 February 2012 (IRIN) – The UN recognizes the international community’s Responsibility to Protect (R2P) civilians during conflict, and this philosophy has quickly become embedded in peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions, but a new report questions some basic humanitarian assumptions.
R2P evolved in the 1990s in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide in realization that states could no longer be relied on to protect civilians, so the onus was placed on the international community to prevent gross human rights abuses, a belief that has since been cited as a reason to intervene in places like Libya and Syria.
Yet the reality – reinforced by a new study from the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) entitled Local to Global Protection in Myanmar (Burma), Sudan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe – is that in conflicts and crisis people almost always have to provide their own protection, for themselves, their families and their villages.
ODI’s Humanitarian Practice Network set out to see what protection there was for communities facing real and serious crises in two areas of Myanmar, in the Sudanese province of South Kordofan, in Jonglei State in South Sudan, and in Zimbabwe. Their researchers asked people what they saw as the most serious threats they faced, what they themselves could do about the threats, and what they thought of any outside help which might have been available.
Heidi Vogt Associated Press February 10, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The push by Afghanistan’s president to nationalize legions of private security guards before the end of March is encouraging corruption and jeopardizing multibillion-dollar aid projects, according to companies trying to make the switch.
President Hamid Karzai has railed for years against the large number of guns-for-hire in Afghanistan, saying private security companies skirt the law and risk becoming militias. He ordered them abolished in 2009 and eventually set March 20 of this year as the deadline for everyone except NATO and diplomatic missions to switch to government-provided security.
Afghan officials are rushing to meet the cutoff with the help of NATO advisers. But with fewer than six weeks to go, it’s likely that many components will still be missing on March 20. And even once everything falls into place, higher costs and issues of authority over the government guards will remain.
The change imperils billions of dollars of aid flowing into Afghanistan, particularly from the United States. In a country beset by insurgent attacks and suicide bombings, the private development companies that implement most of the U.S. aid agency’s programs employ private guards to protect compounds, serve as armed escorts and guard construction sites.
On March 21, approximately 11,000 guards now working for private security firms will become government employees as members of the Afghan Public Protection Force, or APPF. They will still be working in the same place with the same job. Except now they’ll answer to the Interior Ministry.
“We don’t want to have security gaps. This is really important to our customers and to us,” said the head of the APPF, Deputy Minister Jamal Abdul Naser Sidiqi. It will happen, he says, because the presidential order says it has to.
Officially, everyone is optimistic.
“The APPF is now open for business,” a U.S. embassy official said, speaking anonymously to discuss private agency contracts.
But many are still worried that the entire plan could fall apart. Development contractors for the U.S. Agency for International Development told The Associated Press they were explicitly told not to discuss the changeover with reporters because media attention could endanger the delicate process. Everyone critical of APPF insisted on speaking anonymously for this article
Bomb disposal experts safely removed an unexploded wartime device from the golf course of a north Norfolk hotel this morning after an all-night police vigil at the site.
EDP 24 February 10, 2012
A Colchester-based bomb squad arrived at first light to examine the live bomb, discovered by a workman yesterday afternoon at West Runton’s Links Country Park Hotel.
Experts X-rayed it twice before identifying it as a two-inch second world war mortar, according to Marc Mackenzie, director of Links owners Mackenzie Hotels.
They then took the bomb back to Colchester where Mr Mackenzie understood it would be destroyed by a civilian contractor.