Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

UN Finds Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka

Boston Globe AP  April 26, 2012

NEW DELHI—A report from a U.N. mine removal expert says unexploded cluster munitions have been found in northern Sri Lanka, appearing to confirm, for the first time, that the weapons were used in that country’s long civil war.

The revelation is likely to increase calls for an international investigation into possible war crimes stemming from the bloody final months of fighting in the quarter-century civil war that ended in May 2009. The government has repeatedly denied reports it used cluster munitions during the final months of fighting.

Cluster munitions are packed with small “bomblets” that scatter indiscriminately and often harm civilians. Those that fail to detonate often kill civilians long after fighting ends.

They are banned under an international treaty adopted by more than 60 nations that took effect in August 2010, after the Sri Lankan war. The nations that haven’t adopted the treaty include Sri Lanka, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and the U.S., which says the bombs are a valid weapon of war when used properly.

The Associated Press obtained a copy Thursday of an email written by a U.N. land mine expert that said unexploded cluster bomblets were discovered in the Puthukudiyiruppu area of northern Sri Lanka, where a boy was killed last month and his sister injured as they tried to pry apart an explosive device they had found to sell for scrap metal.

The email was written by Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program’s mine action group in Sri Lanka.

“After reviewing additional photographs from the investigation teams, I have determined that there are cluster sub-munitions in the area where the children were collecting scrap metal and in the house where the accident occurred. This is the first time that there has been confirmed unexploded sub-munitions found in Sri Lanka,” the email said.

During the final weeks of the war, tens of thousands of civilians and Tamil Tiger rebel fighters were trapped in a tiny section of Puthukudiyiruppu as attacking government forces closed in on them.

Lakshman Hulugalla, a Sri Lankan government spokesman on security matters, said the military had not used cluster munitions in the war.

“We are denying that information,” he said.

The U.N. did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment

Please read the entire story here


April 26, 2012 Posted by | Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Mine Clearance, United Nations, UXO | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Lebanon deminers discover bodies of 5 Syrian army soldiers

The Daily Star April 18, 2012

BEIRUT: The corpses of five Syrian army soldiers buried during the 1982 Israeli invasion of south Lebanon have been discovered by a demining team, security sources told The Daily Star.

Members of the demining team MAX, whose work involves clearing areas of cluster bombs, discovered the bodies in a plot of land near the Jezzine-Kfar Houneh main road in south Lebanon.

The bodies, security sources said, were buried in 1982, during the second invasion of south Lebanon by the Jewish state.

The soldiers are believed to have split off from their contingent, which at the time had been stationed in the area, as a result of Israeli aerial raids.

The relevant authorities have been notified of the discovery.

April 20, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Lebanon, Mine Clearance, Syria | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Lebanon deminers discover bodies of 5 Syrian army soldiers

The Daily Star April 18, 2012

BEIRUT: The corpses of five Syrian army soldiers buried during the 1982 Israeli invasion of south Lebanon have been discovered by a demining team, security sources told The Daily Star.

Members of the demining team MAX, whose work involves clearing areas of cluster bombs, discovered the bodies in a plot of land near the Jezzine-Kfar Houneh main road in south Lebanon.

The bodies, security sources said, were buried in 1982, during the second invasion of south Lebanon by the Jewish state.

The soldiers are believed to have split off from their contingent, which at the time had been stationed in the area, as a result of Israeli aerial raids.

The relevant authorities have been notified of the discovery

Please see original and read more here

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Landmines, Lebanon, Mine Clearance, Syria | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italy donates 500,000 euros for Lebanon demining work

The Daily Star  March 20, 2012

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s efforts to recover from rampant land mines and cluster bombs in the south have received a new donation from Italy, it was announced Friday.

The Italian Foreign Ministry’s Development Cooperation Department has approved a financial contribution of 500,000 euros ($677,350) to the UNDP for the Lebanon Mine Action Program (LMAP), the ministry said in a statement. The initiative aims at empowering communities affected by cluster bombs, through a demining program to reduce the risk of death and injuries and alleviate the socio-economic impact of cluster bombs.

Please see the original and read more here

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Humanitarian Assistance, Lebanon, Mine Clearance, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can you name this cluster bomb?

The New York Times At War, Notes from the Front Line  February 1, 2012

Today, At War journeys into crowd-sourcing to ask for readers’ help identifying a weapon found on the battlefields of Libya last year. Followers of this blog know that we have spent considerable time identifying and sometimes tracing the tools of war in several recent conflicts back to their sources. But this time, we are stumped.

The items in question are what ordnance professionals call submunitions, but are more widely known among lay readers as cluster bombs. The photograph above shows one found in November at the ruins of an arms depot a few miles outside of Mizdah, in the desert south of Tripoli.

We post it here to bring into public view an ordinary and often frustrating process has been happening, quietly and by fits and starts for several months, among nongovernmental organizations and arms specialists working in Libya.

Here is the background: This submunition was in the arsenal of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s military, and was fired at anti-Qaddafi rebels in the summer and perhaps again in the fall, part of the pro-Qaddafi forces’ last gasps. After the conflict ended, many more were found scattered near shattered bunkers in the depot near Mizdah. These apparently had been kicked out of storage when bunkers were struck by bombs from NATO or allied warplanes. (More on that here.) You can see the disposition of some of them at the depot, below

Please read the entire post here

February 1, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Libya | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Major, the demining dog, dies after saving more than 200 lives

He was hailed a hero after sniffing out more than 250 bombs in Africa and the Middle East, saving countless lives.

“he displayed impeccable manners and rarely disgraced himself in the bar”

The Telegraph  January 10, 2012

But Major, a British-born demining dog, was being mourned last night having been put down after 15 years of faithful service.

The black Labrador was described as an “extremely friendly and loyal friend” by his owner, John Dingley, a senior technical adviser for the United Nations Mine Action Service.

He said Major, whose full name was Major Kipper-Ridge, held the record for the number of mines detected in Somalia.

He was responsible for detecting 67 Pakistani P4 anti-personnel mines which are notoriously difficult to locate by metal detectors and are particularly hazardous to clear.

He also located more than 100 UXO, or unexploded ordnance mines, and 17 anti tank landmines

In 2006, he detected 53 cluster bombs during an emergency tour in Lebanon at the height of the conflict with Israel.

Even in retirement, Major did an “admirable” job as a guard dog, once preventing a robbery in Nairobi.

Mr Dingley, 46, from Draycott, Somerset, paid a fond tribute to his four-legged friend, whose working life was “nothing short of extraordinary”.

He said his incredible success saved more than 200 lives.

Major was born in March 1997 in Wigan. Although little is know about his early life, Mr Dingley said he was obviously from a well-bred family with good manners and a tremendous sense of fun.

Please read the entire story here


January 10, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Improvised Explosive Devices, Landmines, Mine Clearance, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US to stockpile cluster bombs in Australia?

Brisbane, Australia: A US military “base” in Darwin, Australia (spun as a “rotational deployment” for China, I suspect), will necessitate foreign weapons systems and armaments being stockpiled, retained and transited on and in Australian territory.

Although they are long-standing and committed allies, Australia and the United States hold different positions on many matters relating to both arms control and humanitarian law. One recent normative development where the US and Australia’s views have diverged is the ban on cluster bombs, a weapon that has inside multiple – often hundreds – of small explosive sub-munitions or “bomblets” that are dispersed over an area the size of several football fields from either the air or ground. As a result, the final location of each bomblet is impossible to control for those deploying them, and so whom they maim or kill is both unknown and indiscriminate. Roughly 30 per cent of those deployed “fail” to explode on impact, and so the unexploded bomblets become de facto landmines.

When the Convention on Cluster Munitions came into effect in August last year, the Gillard government was part of a chorus of NGOs and governments that saw “an end for all time” of the use of cluster munitions by prohibiting their production, use, stockpiling and transfer. At present, a bill sits with the senate that will criminalise Australian deployment of the weapon under domestic law, thereby ratifying the international convention.

With the formation of a US military base in Darwin, Gillard will effectively make use of certain “loopholes” in the bill that arise from US’ non-signatory status to the Convention, and obfuscation of negotiations that are currently taking place for an additional arms control measure this week. Best estimates are that the US forces presently have a quarter of the world’s four billion cluster munitions in stockpiles across both its territory and existing overseas bases. The US last deployed cluster munitions during the Iraq War in 2003, despite the emerging norm.

In my view, there’s a fair degree of probability cluster munitions will be stockpiled in Darwin, since there are known plans for the US to base a number of B-52 bombers historically used to deploy cluster bombs. It is already known that nuclear weapons will not be permitted onto Australian territory, but a number of the US’ naval fleet are nuclear-powered vessels, which will be allowed

Please read the entire story at Al Jazeera English

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Department of Defense, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Old cluster bomb’ kills three Iraqi children

AFP at Google   May 15, 2011

DIWANIYAH, Iraq — Three young boys were killed and another was badly wounded on Sunday when an unexploded cluster bomb detonated in south Iraq, medical and security officials said.

The children, who officials estimated were aged between six and 12, were playing in a garden in the village of Al-Attah, just east of the southern city of Diwaniyah, when the bomb exploded at about 2:00 pm (1100 GMT).

“Diwaniyah hospital received the bodies of three children killed by an old cluster bomb, and one other was seriously wounded,” said Ahmed al-Bideri, spokesman for the provincial health department.

A police official, who declined to be named, confirmed the toll and also attributed the explosion to a cluster bomb.

Iraq last year asked for international help to clear an estimated 20 million unexploded land mines and ordnance that are a legacy of the 1980-1988 war with Iran, the 1990 assault on Kuwait and the 2003 US-led invasion.

Please read the entire article here

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Cluster Bomb kills 2 Shepards, Wounds 1 in Iraq

Peoples Daily Online March 18, 2011

Two shepherds were killed and another wounded by a bomblet of an old cluster bomb in an area north of Slahudin’s capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Last year, Iraqi Environment Minister Narmin Othman appealed for more international support to clear the country of landmines and unexploded ordnance.

According to the ministry, there are more than 28 million landmines and unexploded ordnance, including some 500,000 unexploded pieces of cluster bombs.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Iraq | , , , | Leave a comment


By Gordon Duff  Staff Writer/Senior Editor Veterans Today  March 9, 2011

Each year, the United States ships “military supplies” to Israel.  This isn’t military aid but rather billions in primarily munitions that are designated as “offshore storage” for the US Department of Defense in order to replenish munitions used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year, these munitions are sold without the “knowledge” of the United States, year after year, billions in munitions, much of it illegal technology transfer or designated “weapons of mass destruction.”

Today, the United States and Great Britain threatened Libya with direct military action if attacks using advanced and prohibited weapons continue.  Special operations units of Britain’s SAS, supplemented groups from several American agencies and commands are currently assessing the situation “on the ground’ in Libya.  Reports indicate the possible deployment of one tactical nuclear weapon against a rebel supply depot several days ago.

Sources in both Britain and the United States also report there is evidence of the deployment of chemical weapons and that Libya’s stock of illegal cluster munitions has been drawn upon in early fighting.

Please read the entire article here

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Libya | , , | Leave a comment

Cambodian demining center says cluster bombs used in Cambodia-Thai border clash

Cambodian Mine Action Center ( CMAC) issued a statement Thursday saying it had verified and confirmed the use of Cluster Munitions by the Thai military to bombard Cambodia during the four-day cross fire that ended Monday.”

“During the cross fire, there identified evidence of heavy artilleries such as 105MM, 130MM and 155MM used by Thai military, and CMAC experts have verified and confirmed that these artilleries contained Cluster Munitions including M35, M42 and M46 types,” CMAC said in the statement.As an emergency response, CMAC is deploying a number of teams of multi-skilled experts Mine Risk Education to Preah Vihear to alert the communities of the risk and equip them with the knowledge to keep them from harm’s way, it said.Cambodia said, about 10,000 villagers were affected by the fight

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Cambodia, Demining | , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq asks for help to clear landmines

Islam Tribune.com

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq called for international help on Monday to clear the estimated 20 million mines which pose a death threat in one of the world’s most heavily mined countries after three decades of conflict.

“Removing mines from Iraq is difficult because there are no maps to indicate the mined areas,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said at a government-organised landmines conference in Baghdad.

“That is why we need the effort of donor countries and the experience of the international community,” he told representatives of donors to Iraqi reconstruction since the 2003 US-led invasion, a list which includes the United States, European Union, Japan and the United Nations.

© AFP/File Awad Awad - Since 1991, an estimated 8,000 Iraqis have been killed or maimed by mines and cluster bombs

“Iraq is losing the blood of its sons,” he said in reference to deaths by unexploded landmines remaining from the 1980-1988 war against Iran, the 1991 conflict over Kuwait, and the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

“We are responsible for the security of our people,” Maliki said.

Since 1991, an estimated 8,000 Iraqis, among them 2,000 children, have been killed or maimed by mines and cluster bombs, according to United Nations figures.

Daniel Augstburger of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) highlighted the scale of the problem.

“Iraq is one of the most contaminated landmine- and unexploded-ordnance affected countries of the world,” he said.

“More than 20 million anti-personnel landmines were laid together with unexploded ordnance, including cluster munitions,” said Augstburger, head of UNAMI’s liaison assistance mission.

He said 1.6 million Iraqis were affected by landmines, and that 90 percent of contaminated land was agricultural. “This contamination also impacts on numerous development projects, including oil and gas,” said Augstburger.

Iraq’s national security adviser Safa al-Shekh said “the government cares about the issue and knows how serious it is. It is a huge challenge.”

Unexploded mines “can be used by terrorists” at a time when security forces are trying to put down an Al-Qaeda insurgency and sectarian strife, the Iraqi official said.

“Iraq needs international support to remove mines,” Shekh said.

“We are looking for the help of the international community to first carry out a survey and then remove them, and also provide the required equipment,” he added.

Shekh said the “priorities include clearing areas with the greatest impact on the lives of people, and those with strategic and investment projects.”

Iraq’s army banned civilian contractors from mine-clearing activities in December 2008, citing security concerns after unconfirmed claims that villagers had been digging up unexploded and selling them to insurgents.

Last year, the United Nations said Iraq’s decision was seriously damaging the war-battered nation’s pledge to rid itself of the deadly munitions.

Iraq signed up to the Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in 2008, requiring it to clear all areas littered with such ordnance by 2018, but the UN warns that the target is in jeopardy.

Abboud Qanbar, a defence ministry official, told the conference that the government had carried out limited surveys and cleared mines in 21 locations, but did not specify where.  Please see the original story here

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Demining, Iraq, United Nations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven countries which had used cluster munitions yet to endorse ban

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

MADRID, 3 August 2010 (IRIN) – The Convention on Cluster Munitions came into force on 1 August 2010, marking a major step towards ridding the world of the cluster bomb submunitions which can kill and maim decades after being unleashed.

According to the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), comprising more than 350 NGOs working in 90 countries, the treaty is “the most significant international disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines”.

According to CMC, the following countries have used cluster munitions: Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Israel, Libya, Morocco, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, former Yugoslavia, Sudan, the UK and the USA.

Of these, the UK and France* have signed and ratified the convention, while Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Serbia and Sudan have either signed but not ratified it or shown interest in signing it. The following seven* countries are yet to take any action to join it: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Israel, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

“Campaigners around the world are celebrating a triumph of humanitarian values over a cruel and unjust weapon,” said CMC coordinator Thomas Nash.   Read the Entire Story here

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Iraq, NGO's, Private Military Contractors, United Nations | , , , | Leave a comment