Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

United Nations board of inquiry finds Ronco Consulting failed to find mines

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

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Government Contractor, Landmines, Lawsuits, Mine Clearance, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations, Vetting Employees | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Dozens of UN troops seized’ in Darfur

JEM spokesman says peacekeepers “entered our territory without permission”, accompanied by Sudanese security personnel.

AlJazerra February 20, 2012

A major anti-government group in Sudan’s Darfur region has said it is holding at least 49 international UN peacekeepers, mainly from Senegal.

A spokesman for the group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), made the announcement on Monday.

“We are holding the UNAMID soldiers because they entered our territory without permission and because they were accompanied by three Sudanese we suspect work for the security services,” the spokesman said.

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eritrea opposition figure feared abducted in Sudan

AFP  February 16, 2012

An Eritrean opposition party official has been missing for two days in eastern Sudan and there are fears he may have been kidnapped by Asmara’s security agents, the party alleged on Thursday.

Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, a member of the People’s Democratic Party central council, left his house in Kassala town at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) on Tuesday and has not been seen since, the party said in a statement emailed to AFP.

Sudanese police and the Kassala hospitals had no word on him, it said.

“The big fear prevailing in Kassala is that he might have been kidnapped by security agents of the Eritrean regime, who enjoy free mobility in the region,” it said.

Eastern Sudan is home to tens of thousands of ethnic Eritreans

Please see the original and read more here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Eritrea, Sudan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

29 Chinese Workers Captured in Sudan

China Digital Times  January 29, 2012

Sudanese claimed on Sunday that they abducted 29 Chinese road workers after a battle between the rebels and the Sudanese army, though the army claims the rebels attacked the workers’ compound. From Reuters:

The army has been fighting rebels of the SPLM-N in South Kordofan bordering newly independent South since June. Fighting spread to the northern Blue Nile state in September.

“We are holding 29 Chinese workers after a battle with the army yesterday,” a spokesman for the SPLM-N said. “They are in good health. We are holding them for their own safety because the army was trying to strike again.”

The army said rebels had attacked the compound of a Chinese construction company operating in the area between the towns of Abbasiya and Rashad in the north of the state and captured 70 civilians.

“Most of them are Chinese. They (the rebels) are targeting civilians,” said army spokesman Sawarmi Khalid Saad.

Chinese state media reported on Monday that all contact had been lost with the workers, while Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party condemned the attack and a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry confirmed that the two sides had begun emergency procedures. , the employer of the abducted Chinese nationals, told Xinhua News that it had launched its own emergency response:

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Military Cutback We Can’t Afford: Fighting Tropical Diseases

Leishmaniasis at The Iraq Infections

“In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans”

Barbara Herwaldt CDC on Leishmaniasis

 Contractors will be even less likely to be diagnosed and/or treated timely or effectively.   Diagnoses normally occurs long after they’ve had contact with their families.

Peter Hotez & James Kazura at The Atlantic

In recent months, many politicians and presidential hopefuls have called for budget reductions, and many have specifically targeted military spending for cutbacks. Unfortunately, even programs proven to be cost effective are vulnerable to cuts. Medical research for our troops is no exception to this rule — programs such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) often find themselves low on the priority list despite their crucial role in saving the lives of our troops on the battlefield and here at home.

One important area of research is tropical medicine. During World War II and the Vietnam War, more than one million service members acquired tropical infections such as malaria, dengue fever, hookworm, and typhus, and many of these diseases continued to plague our veterans after they returned home. Today, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still face formidable tropical disease threats, especially from a disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies known as leishmaniasis, which can cause a disfiguring ulcer in one form, and a serious systemic condition that clinically resembles leukemia in another. In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans.

WRAIR’s leishmaniasis diagnostic laboratory is the only one of its kind in the world, so each time funding is slashed our military loses considerable expertise and capabilities in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this devastating disease. For example, in the years prior to the Gulf War, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was officially decommissioned and all research was halted. Only after cases of leishmaniasis among U.S. forces exposed to sand-fly bites in the Iraqi desert were the remaining leishmaniasis experts at WRAIR quickly assembled and tasked with making up for lost time. In 2002, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was again dissolved only to be urgently activated once more with the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The interruptions to the WRAIR leishmaniasis program are part of much larger budget cuts across all of WRAIR’s tropical infectious disease research programs. There is no end to the irony of such cutbacks given that they coincide with the activation in 2008 of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), charged with fighting the war on terror across the African continent. Today, sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of cases of tropical diseases anywhere in the world. Many of these tropical infections, such as river blindness and African sleeping sickness, have been shown to destabilize communities and may actually promote conflict in the region.

Please see the original and read more here

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Bug Watch, Central America, Civilian Contractors, Columbia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SOUTH SUDAN: Demining for development as rebels re-mine

ROKON, 2 November 2011 (IRIN)

In the South Sudanese town of Rokon, sniffer dogs practise finding explosives as an enormous demining machine churns up the soil in a nearby suspected minefield.

A former Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) soldier is helping NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in the search for mines in what was a SAF garrison town during the 22-year civil war with the southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). In 2005, a peace accord paved the way for the creation in July 2011 of an independent South Sudan.

“These mines were mainly laid in 1991, in 1994 and 1999 by the SAF and the SPLA on both sides of the river and in belts around roads and bridges,” said Moses Bidhali, who manages NPA’s mine clearance activities in Rokon.

The Mine Action Programme has found four anti-tank mines, eight anti-personnel mines and 15 unexploded pieces of ordnance (UXOs) from tanks, bombs and guns over the past six weeks, with local knowledge of SAF mine belts massively speeding up the arduous process of checking 229,000 sqm.

“The threat in South Sudan is not the [number] of land mines, it’s the lack of information about where they are,” said Terje Eldoen, the NGO’s national mine action programme manager.

According to the UN’s Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database, in 2010, 52 people were injured and 22 killed in 19 reported landmine accidents throughout South Sudan. In the first 10 months of 2011, 75 people were injured and 33 killed in 28 landmine accidents

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hungarian UN Employee Freed in Sudan’s Darfur Province

Earthtimes.org via undpi.org
Nairobi/Khartoum – A Hungarian citizen working for the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s restive Darfur province has been released after 90 days in captivity, the UN said.
The mission, known as UNAMID, said in a statement that the man appeared to be in good health after his release on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are thankful to have our colleague back with us, safe and sound,” said UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari.
Armed men took the Hungarian and two colleagues from their home in the North Darfur town of El Fasher on October 7, although the others managed to escape from the moving vehicle they were bundled into.
The release came as “the result of the efforts of the Sudanese authorities,” UNAMID said.
Kidnappings of aid workers and peacekeepers for ransom are common in Darfur, which has been plagued by conflict and insecurity since 2003, when mainly non-Arab tribesmen took up arms against what they called decades of neglect and discrimination by Khartoum.
The UN estimates 300,000 people have died and almost 3 million have been displaced as a result of the conflict, while Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.
UNAMID said ten peacekeepers in total have been abducted since the mission began in 2008, but it said it would not be “deterred by such acts of violence and criminal activities against its peacekeepers.”   Please see the original here

January 6, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kala Azar outbreak claims more than 300 lives in Southern Sudan

Please take precautions if you are working in places like this

At Yahoo Starting Point

“The fact that we see these high numbers so early, in the traditional low season of the disease, indicate that we are on the brink of a massive outbreak later in the year,” Koert Ritmeijer, a health adviser for Doctors Without Borders, said.

Health officials are struggling to contain and treat an outbreak of a parasitic tropical disease in Southern Sudan, The Associated Press reported.

More than 6,000 cases of Kala Azar have been reported, making it the worst outbreak in the region since 1991. According to the World Health Organization, 303 people have died from it since September 2009.

Largely unknown in the developed world, leishmaniasis is transmitted by the bite of certain types of sandflies that live in forest areas in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Visceral leishmaniasis — the most severe form of the disease — is also known as Kala Azar, which means “black fever” in Hindi. Patients with Kala Azar suffer from high fever, fatigue, anemia, swelling of the liver and spleen and are often described as “wasting away.” The majority of cases in Southern Sudan involve patients under the age of 17.

Nine out of 10 Kala Azar patients will die within weeks if they do not receive proper treatment, the most common of which is sodium stibogluconate. The drug is injected into patients over the course of a month, but it is expensive, exceedingly painful and can cause toxic reactions.

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Leishmaniasis, Sudan, Toxic | , , | Leave a comment

Upsurge of kala-azar (leishmaniasis) cases in Southern Sudan

8 October 2010 ¦ Juba, Sudan — Sudan Tribune

Recurrent outbreaks of visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease also known as kala-azar, have been reported in Southern Sudan, with 6363 cases and 303 deaths (case fatality rate of 4.7%) recorded since outbreaks began in September 2009. The number of cases is more than six times higher than the same period starting in 2007 (when 758 cases were recorded) and 2008 (582 cases). Most affected patients (70%) are children aged under 15 years who already suffer from concurrent malnutrition and other secondary illnesses.  Read more here

October 14, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan, Toxic | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.N. missions in some countries broke rules: watchdog

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. missions in several world troublespots neglected proper security procedures and financial controls, exposing the world body to unnecessary risks, according to an internal report made public on Tuesday.

The report by the U.N. watchdog the Office of Internal Oversight Services, or OIOS, covering 2009, found fault with operations in a series of countries but focused especially on Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq.

The report “highlights deficiencies in internal controls in a range of areas, from contract management to air operations, that expose the (United Nations) to unnecessary risk,” OIOS head Inga-Britt Ahlenius said in a preface.

“Lack of compliance with standard operating procedures, poor planning and inadequate management are just a few of the types of deficiencies identified.”

Reports of U.N. mismanagement are watched closely by critics of the world body, especially in the United States — the largest contributor to the U.N. budget — who charge that the organization is rife with waste and corruption.

In the violent western Sudanese region of Darfur, the unit found that security precautions and preparations by a joint U.N. and African Union peacekeeping force that now stands at 20,000 troops and police were inadequate for the risks.

The force known as UNAMID, which has lost 22 soldiers and police since the beginning of 2008, made some improvements, the 23-page report said, after OIOS recommended that “urgent measures” be taken.

The report, commissioned by the U.N. General Assembly, also criticized UNAMID for overpaying a fuel contractor $4.7 million because of a failure to verify invoices properly.

POOR CONTROLS

Turning to the troubled peacekeeping mission in Congo, which has nearly 22,000 troops and police, the report charged there were “weak” physical controls over access to cashiers’ offices and vaults. The report did not mention if any losses resulted.

OIOS also probed allegations of sexual misconduct in Congo by U.N. soldiers from an unidentified country and found preliminary evidence some had sexually exploited and abused minors at several refugee camps between 2007 and 2009.

It gave no further details. The U.N. mission, MONUC, has been dogged by claims of sexual misbehavior, including nearly 60 last year, far more than in any other country, according to a U.N. website, http://cdu.unlb.org/. The world body refers such cases to authorities in the troop-contributing country.

The report further found that maintenance of airfields in Congo by MONUC failed to comply with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

In Iraq, OIOS found that the U.N. mission UNAMI, which is entirely civilian, had awarded a $3 million contract for installing overhead protection in staff accommodation on the basis of a single bid. The mission refused to review why there had been no competitive bidding, the report said.

UNAMI had also violated regulations by not reviewing and updating regularly its security plan, the U.N. watchdog said.

In the Central African Republic, the report said failures in internal controls had put the U.N. mission’s resources “at risk for fraud, waste and mismanagement” and led to erroneous payroll payments and unreconciled bank statements.

Original Story at Rueters

March 23, 2010 Posted by | United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment