Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

UN, Norwegian Peoples Aid and Mechem South African Demining Workers abducted/arrested in South Sudan

Sudan arrests foreigners in disputed border region  April 29, 2012

John Sorbo, mine clearing expert working for the Norwegian People's Aid organization, one of the three foreigners arrested in the disputed Heglig border area, exits a plane in Khartoum. (REUTERS)

Sudan said it had arrested a Briton, a Norwegian and a South African on Saturday, accusing them of illegally entering a disputed oil-producing border area to spy for its enemy South Sudan.

South Sudanese officials denied the allegations and said the men were working with the United Nations and aid groups clearing mines and had got lost in the remote territory close to the boundary between the two countries.

Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled said the three were arrested in Heglig – the scene of recent fighting between Sudan and South Sudan – travelling with a South Sudanese soldier in vehicles carrying military equipment.

“It is now confirmed without any doubt that South Sudan used the help of foreigners in their attack on Heglig. These foreigners were doing military work such as spying out the areas … They had military equipment … They have a military background,” Sawarmi said.

The group had been flown to Khartoum, he added.

A Reuters witness saw four men arriving on a civilian plane at Khartoum’s military airport.

One of the men, a Westerner, was wearing a t-shirt marked with the slogan “Norwegian People’s Aid. Mine Action South Africa”. Reporters were not allowed to talk to the men who were swiftly driven away in an unmarked white van.

Agency France Presse Canada  April 29, 2012

KHARTOUM – A South African demining company on Sunday said two of its workers were abducted by the Sudanese military while on a UN landmine clearance contract in South Sudan.

Ashley Williams, CEO of state-owned Mechem, said its employees, a South African and a local South Sudanese, were abducted with a British UN employee and a Norwegian.

Williams rejected suggestions by the Sudanese army spokesman that the men were working in support of South Sudan in its “aggression” against the north.

“It’s humanitarian work so the story of them being military advisers and this type of thing is completely and utterly nonsense and not true,” said Williams.

“We are doing humanitarian landmine clearance on a UN contract and our members have full UN immunity. The abduction took place well within South Sudan territory,” he told AFP, saying the group were travelling south between two UN bases.

“Then they grabbed them and drove back to Heglig with them where they then said they’ve arrested them in this disputed area while they weren’t there at all.”

A team remained in the area, which the United Nations would bring out with protection over fears of similar action, Williams said.

Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad on Saturday said the group were captured within Sudan’s borders in the tense Heglig oil area.

“This confirms what we said before, that South Sudan in its aggression against Heglig was supported by foreign experts,” he told reporters after the four were flown to the capital Khartoum.

“We captured them inside Sudan’s borders, in the Heglig area, and they were collecting war debris for investigation,” Saad said.

He added that all four had military backgrounds, and were accompanied by military equipment and a military vehicle. He did not elaborate.

In the most serious fighting since the South’s independence, Juba’s troops occupied Sudan’s main oil region of Heglig for 10 days, a move which coincided with Sudanese air strikes against the South.

Sudan declared on April 20 that its troops had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord.

Jan Ledang, country director for the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) mission in South Sudan, identified one of the captives as its employee John Sorbo.

“It’s impossible that they were in Heglig – they were in Pariang” about a 90-minute drive from Heglig in the South’s Unity state, Ledang said.

They were doing follow-up demining work in the area, he added.

The four were on a de-mining mission “and one of them was from the UN”, said Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan

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April 29, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Legal Jurisdictions, Mine Clearance, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran respects all international demining treaties

Press TV  April 4, 2012
The Iranian Defense Minister says the country respects the content of all international treaties and conventions on demining and is planning to join them, Press TV reports.

“There are international treaties on demining and we respect their content. There is the Ottawa Convention and we are mulling accession to that convention,” Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi told Press TV on the sidelines of an international conference on demining.

The international conference on demining kicked off at Tehran’s permanent International Fairgrounds on Tuesday along with an exhibition of modern demining methods and a demining robot competition.

The three-day event is attended by Iranian and foreign military and civilian officials whose main goal is to find practical solutions for removing landmines and decreasing injuries and deaths caused by them.

According to some participants, there are around 120-140 million mines planted worldwide and for every mine removed, six mines are planted.

Mohammad Hossein Amir-Ahmadi, head of the Iran Mine Action Center, said the center was established in 2006 and 85 of the people working for it have lost their lives demining since then

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April 4, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Demining, ERW, Federal Workers, Iran, Landmines, Mine Clearance, United Nations | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DRC: Landmines hurting farmers’ livelihoods

IRIN March 26,2012

KABALO, 26 March 2012 (IRIN) – Landmines planted about a decade ago in parts of Kabalo territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) southeastern Katanga Province are adversely affecting farming livelihoods, and an important World Food Programme (WFP) project.

“In our area, there are villages where we get much harvest but the road leading to those villages [has] landmines,” a food trader from Kabalo said.

Lorries often get blown up by the landmines, Birindwa Murhula, a leader of one of the local food traders’ associations, told IRIN.

Kabalo, formerly the breadbasket of mineral-rich Katanga Province, was affected by DRC’s 1998-2003 civil wars. The Mpaye area, for example, served as a demarcation zone separating belligerents when Zimbabwean-backed DRC army troops clashed with the rebel Rassemblement Congolais Pour la Democratie, which was backed by the Rwandan Army.

Mpaye is still affected by landmines, making the transportation of food from local villages to trading centres and beyond a challenge.

In the past, the NGO Danish Church Aid (DCA) helped to demine Kabalo but stopped work in the first half of 2012 due to a lack of funding

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March 26, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Safety and Security Issues, UXO | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defense Contractor EOD Technology announces layoffs

Knoxville Biz  February 28, 2012

Lenoir City defense contractorEOD Technology said Tuesday it is laying off 48 headquarters employees.

In a news release, the company said it was restructuring its business model in response to federal budget cuts, especially those associated with its work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The release said several government contracts to protect U.S. troops and manage explosive ordnance were expected to extend well into 2012, but have ended earlier than expected because of accelerated U.S. troop withdrawal plans. Following the layoffs, EODT will have 250 American employees and 3,000 foreign nationals. The company said employees who are laid off will be offered severance packages.

“Our employees are remarkable, highly skilled people who are part of protecting the lives of American troops and foreign nationals,” Matt Kaye, EODT’s CEO, said in the release. “As any organization that works with government understands, we recognize that the budget environment is always changing, sometimes unexpectedly. Unfortunately, we must take this action, as many companies have been forced to do, to remain competitive.”

The company said it is boosting its emphasis on land mine removal and disposal, and expanding its work with the oil and gas industry.

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February 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, EODT, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Government Contractor, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Private Military Contractors | , , , , | 1 Comment

SRI LANKA: Mine clearance could take 10 years or more

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

COLOMBO, 6 February 2012 (IRIN) – Landmine clearance in Sri Lanka’s conflict-affected north could take more than a decade, experts say.

“It is expected to take [in] excess of 10 years to fully mitigate all remaining contamination in Sri Lanka,” the Mine Action Project of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka told IRIN, citing a lack of resources coupled with the difficult nature of the work.

Approximately 126 sqkm of land remains to be cleared in the island’s north at the end of 2011, according to data from the National Mine Action Centre (NMAC).

Set up in July 2010, NMAC is the government’s lead agency in de-mining work in the country.

As of 31 December 2011, the largest remaining area was in Mannar District (33.8 sqkm), followed by Mullaitivu (27.7 sqkm), Kilinochchi (23 sqkm), Vavuniya (15 sqkm) and Jaffna (5 sqkm) in the north.

Smaller areas are in borderline districts of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, along with some parts of the east.

Barrier to return

More than 6,700 conflict-displaced, mainly from Mullaitivu District, continue to live at Menik Farm outside the town of Vavuniya, where more than 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) once lived following the end of the war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1983.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), since 1 January 2009, more than 554 sqkm have been cleared of mines and UXO (unexploded ordnance) in the north and east of the country.

The humanitarian demining unit of the Sri Lanka Army, international organizations – Danish Demining Group (DDG), HALO Trust, Horizon, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Sarvatra, and Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD)] – and two national organizations – Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH) and the Milinda Moragoda Institute for Peoples’ Empowerment (MMIPE)] – are engaged in demining work.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) carries out mine risk awareness programmes in the north and east.

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February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Humanitarian Assistance, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Sri Lanka, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ronco Consulting sued for negligence by United Nations Mine Action Employee

Careful who you follow….

Fartham vs Ronco Consulting

A United Nations Mine Action Employee has filed a lawsuit against Ronco Consulting Corporation for negligence after stepping on a landmine resulting in an immediate below the knee amputation in an area previously cleared by and certified clear of landmines by Ronco Consulting.

The United Nations board of inquiry found that Ronco failed to find the mine that injured Mr Fartham as well as three other mines.

The complaint states that Ronco Consulting, acting through it’s agents and/or employee’s, breached it’s professional duty of care to Fantham and did not exercise the reasonable care and skill expected of professional mine clearance companies.

Fartham vs Ronco Consulting

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Africa, ArmorGroup, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Landmines, Legal Jurisdictions, Ronco, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review finds that bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq may not be up to snuff

LA Unleashed

The State Department’s inspector general said Friday that bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t being tested properly and may not be able to effectively detect explosives.

The inspector general’s review found that the companies hired to supply and train the animals weren’t testing them for all of the scents of the most commonly encountered explosives, increasing the chance of a dog missing a bomb in a vehicle or luggage. That puts U.S. diplomats at risk, the inspector general said.

The companies — U.S. Training Center in Moyock, N.C., a business unit of the company formerly known as Blackwater, and RONCO Consulting Corp. in Washington — also used expired or potentially contaminated materials for the scent tests, the inspector general’s report said.

Susan Pitcher, a spokeswoman for Wackenhut Services, RONCO’s parent company, called the inspector general’s review “inaccurate.” She said a canine expert engaged by the State Department to verify the detection capabilities of the dogs concluded that they complied with the required standards.

Pitcher, however, said that the company had not been provided the expert’s report, receiving instead what she described as “on-site briefings” about the results.

The inspector general’s office said it had not been given the results of the expert’s inspection when it released its report.

The U.S. Training Center did not respond to a request for comment on the inspector general’s report.

The inspector general’s review was limited to three canine programs handled by U.S. Training Center and RONCO. The report did not say how many dogs each contractor provides.

Overall, the State Department uses nearly 200 bomb-sniffing dogs. The report only offers a glimpse of the costs of these services, saying the State Department pays $24 million a year alone for canine services at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The report faults the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is responsible for managing the canine program, for weak oversight. Investigators found that the contractors, not the bureau, were running the program and policing themselves.

During visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the investigators did not meet any bureau personnel with expertise in bomb-sniffing dogs. “They depended upon the knowledge and expertise of the contractors to ensure all contractual requirements and other standards were met,” according to the report.

The contractors told the investigators “that no outside organization with expertise in explosive detection canines had ever reviewed their operations in Iraq or Afghanistan,” the report said.

In comments printed in the report, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security said it is taking steps to improve the canine program and plans to hire an independent expert who will ensure all the contract requirements are met properly.

Original Article here

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, G4S, Ronco, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments