Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

U.S. aid agency prepares switch to Afghan security

Reuters US

The main U.S. foreign aid agency is preparing to switch from private security contractors in Afghanistan to Afghan government-provided security this month under a new policy mandated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, raising concern in Washington that this could put U.S. civilians at greater risk.

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah says the agency may be able to negotiate waivers from the policy for some major infrastructure projects so that they could continue to have access to private security.

But U.S. AID officials also said this week that only 25 percent of U.S.-funded development projects in Afghanistan require security guards, suggesting the changeover to Afghan government-provided security this month that Karzai has ordered may not be so dramatic.

“Seventy-five percent of our assistance portfolio does not require private security contractors today. So a lot of our partners, and a lot of the way we are doing business is not affected by this at all,” Alex Thier, Shah’s assistant for Afghanistan and Pakistan programs, said in an interview.

Private security contractors working for foreign companies, who have numbered in the thousands, are no longer allowed on aid and development programs after March 20 under Karzai’s decree. If these programs want armed escorts or guards for their compounds, they are supposed to contract with a branch of the Afghan police, the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF).

Karzai has long been critical of private contractors and other “parallel institutions” in Afghanistan and wants them under the control of the Afghan government.

Yet it’s far from clear that the Afghan Public Protection force can provide the same level of security.

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March 9, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, USAID | , , , , | Leave a comment

The expats: ‘No bills, no everyday dramas’ – until the unthinkable happens

The Independent March 10, 2012

Western workers are the civilian mercenaries of Africa. They are easy to spot in the continent’s airports. Generally white and casually dressed, they travel in groups of three or four. They often seem to speak with Scottish accents and have little or no hand luggage, except possibly an iPad. And they are such seasoned travellers that they are generally the last to leave the bar when the flight is called.

“You do it for the money and only for a few years,” said a Scottish welder I met recently at Luanda airport in Angola. All he knew of the country was the international airport and a hotel nearby where he had stayed while waiting for his helicopter transfer to the rig.

He works a 30/30 schedule: non-stop, 12 hours a day for 30 days, followed by a month off for £40,000 per year. That is the favoured work rhythm of employed oil workers who are a long way from home. Others work short stints for different companies as freelance contractors.

The untrained, entry-level staff, with no qualifications can expect to earn about £100 a day, but skilled staff can expect much more: senior construction project managers can pocket as much as £150,000 a year for their work, often much more than they could earn at home. In Nigeria, a project manager can take home £65,000 for helping to build hotels, according to one careers website yesterday.

The welder, a single man, said the best and worst aspect of his work was the monotony: jobs are narrowly defined for safety reasons but there also few surprises: “No bills to pay, no everyday dramas to deal with. They are waiting for me back home,” he said. He was travelling back to Britain with a pipe fitter, a mechanic and a scaffolder, all working the same shift pattern.

Sites housing hundreds of expat specialists have everything: internet, swimming pool, gym and satellite television. Accommodation is five-star and is kept functioning by an army of housekeepers, plumbers and galley hands.

The downside is that the work takes place in remote and often dangerous regions where they risk being kidnapped or worse, as this week’s events showed.

The companies involved are expected to provide security for their workers, but as message boards suggested yesterday, some areas of Africa, particularly Nigeria, remain highly dangerous for expat workers.

“I spent three months in Somalia two years ago and if u [sic] think Iraq is dangerous Somalia is much worse… The Niger Delta isn’t much better. Having worked a lot in Africa I would advise u [sic] to think very carefully about going there at all,” said one blogger.

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March 9, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Kidnapped, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian, British hostages killed in rescue raid in Nigeria

By msnbc.com staff and news services  March 8, 2012

Chris McManus

An Italian and a British hostage kidnapped in May in Nigeria were killed on Thursday by their captors during a joint raid by British and Nigerian forces trying to free them, Italy’s government said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to inform him of the “tragic conclusion” of the operation, a statement said.

The joint forces intervened to free Italian Franco Lamolinara and Briton Christopher McManus, fearing that their lives were under threat, the statement said.

Cameron said it appeared McManus and Lamolinara had been “murdered by their captors before they could be rescued,” the BBC reported.

A witness told Reuters that security forces had tried to force their way into a compound in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria.

“The security agencies tried to break into the house but there was resistance. The people inside the house were shooting at them and they returned fire. They exchanged fire for some time,” said Mahmoud Abubakar, who lives on the same street.

“I saw a military truck come out of the compound with two bodies on it. I didn’t see their color, because they were covered with leaves,” he added

The captors were a faction of militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, a senior official at Nigeria’s State Security Service said.

“The hostage-takers shot the hostages before they even entered the compound. All the terrorists have been killed as well,” he said. “We arrested some suspects a few days before who led us to them.”

British special forces were involved in the rescue, UK media reports said.

McManus’ family said they were devastated by the news.

“We knew Chris was in an extremely dangerous situation,” the family said in a statement published on The Telegraph. “However we knew that everything that could be done was being done. Our thoughts are also of course with the loved ones of Chris’ colleague, Franco Lamolinara, who are also coming to terms with this truly sad news.”

McManus and Lamolinara were working as engineers for a large construction company called Stabilini Visinoni Limited when they were kidnapped on May 12, 2011 in in Birnin Kebbi city, The Telegraph reported

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March 9, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | 1 Comment