Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Internal U.S. report: Syrian military violating ceasefire, attacking aid workers

Josh Rogin Foreign Policy

Syrian government forces continue to attack opposition forces, civilians, and aid volunteers, preventing the international community from getting emergency aid to the Syrian people, USAID has detailed in a series of internal reports obtained by The Cable.

In its latest “humanitarian update,” written at the end of April, USAID reported in detail the extensive attacks perpetrated by Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) troops, despite an ongoing U.N. monitoring mission and in direct violation of the “cease-fire” there. The USAID report, marked “sensitive but unclassified,” sourced its findings to U.N. representatives in Syria as well as representatives of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), and other aid groups on the ground.

“U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan expressed concerns regarding reports of SARG reprisal attacks in areas where Syrian civilians met with U.N. observers, including in Hamah and Damascus governorates,” the report stated. “The observers report that SARG forces have not withdrawn heavy weapons from urban centers — a condition of the U.N. and Arab League supported ceasefire and peace plan that went into effect on April 12.”

Although the U.N. Security Council has authorized the deployment of 300 monitors, the report could only confirm that “at least 11” U.N. monitors had arrived in Syria as of April 24. (Additional monitors have reportedly arrived since then.)

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May 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Explosive devices found near Hagadera refugee camp

“The explosive was later detonated by ballistic experts
and so there is no cause for alarm as security has been
beefed up in the area,” said Regional police commander

DADAAB (Xinhua) Three explosives were found near the UN refugee camp offices early on Thursday, about 5 km from the Hagadera refugee camp in northern Kenya.

The police said the explosives which were discovered by G4S, private security officers at 8 a.m. had been buried in the soil right in the middle of the road.

The road is used by UN vehicles that go the Hagardera refugee camps.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua at the world’s largest refugee complex in northern Kenyan that the G4S security officers manning the expansive UNHCR become suspicious when they saw a strange object protruding from the ground.

“We still can’t tell who planted the explosives in the soil, but the one responsible for this must have had bad intentions and were maybe targeting the UN or the security personnel vehicles which use the route frequently,” said the local resident who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.

Regional police commander Leo Nyongesa said the security officers from the nearby Daadab police station with the help of ballistic experts who were swiftly called at the scene managed to detonate one of the improvised electronic device (IED) and went with the other two.

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May 12, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, G4S, Improvised Explosive Devices, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Declares Kabul “White” City, Highest Security Status effective immediatley

May 3, 2012

The UN have declared Kabul a “White City” Highest Security Status effective immediately.

This means all movement for UN staff have been immediately suspended within Kabul and more than likely all of Afghanistan.

The UN Claims that there has also been an increase in security threats specifically along the Jalalabad Road corridor, the most likely targets will be the military installations, international military, Afghan military and Police, government buildings, UN complex, and the Green Village as the obvious targets.

There has been no known specific threats at this time and Coalition Embassies and Forces are not registering additional known threats. Due to the significant events past and present and future with the Chicago Conference their exist the potential to build up for a spectacular event within Kabul City Area

May 3, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The myth and mystique of humanitarian space

“Humanitarian space is generally understood as a space that exists separate from politics,”

LONDON, 2 May 2012 (IRIN)

The phenomenon of ‘shrinking humanitarian space’ is earnestly debated by aid workers. The often-heard complaint is that neutrality and independence is increasingly compromised by donors, peacekeepers and warring parties seeking to to co-opt them, and they blame the growing toll of attacks on agency staff on the perception that they are no longer impartial.

Now two researchers from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London have waded into the debate, challenging the whole idea of ‘humanitarian space’ as the agencies define it, and criticising the lack of historical perspective of those who believe there was ever a humanitarian golden age, when neutrality was respected and agencies could work in conflict zones free of political considerations.

In their paper, Humanitarian Space: a Review of Trends and Issues, Sarah Collinson and Samir Elhawary do not deny that the total number of attacks on aid workers has increased. But they argue that the number of aid workers, and the scale of their operations have also increased – massively – in recent years. More than 200,000 field-based aid workers are now estimated to be employed by the UN and international NGOs, and it is not clear that they are proportionately more at risk than their far less numerous predecessors.

Agencies also now consider it normal to expect to be able to work in areas of conflict and have their neutrality respected. That was not always the case. In the 1950s and 60s, respect for national sovereignty kept UN agencies out of countries affected by war, and the refugee agency UNHCR only worked with people who had already left their homeland. In the 1970s, idealistic new NGOs defied sovereign governments and worked with rebel groups to help the oppressed.

In the 1990s international peacekeeping efforts became more assertive and interventionist, but, say Collinson and Elhawary, “many aid agencies accepted the need for ‘coherence’ between humanitarian and diplomatic and security agendas as long as they trusted the basic humanitarian intent of the main donor governments.” It was only after the 9/11 attacks in the US, little more than 10 years ago, that agencies got concerned about being co-opted into the much more explicit security agenda of the so-called Global War on Terror.

“Humanitarian space is generally understood as a space that exists separate from politics,” Elhawary told an audience at the ODI this week, “and that to reverse politicisation we need to return to a clear, solid and predictable model, namely that by upholding these principles, and remaining outside of politics, an agency’s access will be guaranteed. But all access is essentially based on political compromise and results from the interplay of a range of actors’ interests and actions…We undertook a brief historical review since the cold war, and we found no past golden age for humanitarian action.”

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May 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Kidnapped, NGO's, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

US Man Captured by Militia in Iraq Released to UN

Associated Press  March 18, 2012

Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops.

The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz.

Speaking calmly and tripping over Arabic names in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.

“It was explained to me that this is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war,” he said at the press conference that was held for Iraqi media.

He gave scant details of what he described as a “kidnapping,” or how he was treated while captured

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Iraq | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria’s Assad rebuffs Annan, troops attack Idlib

Reuters Lebanon  March 10, 2012

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan (C), Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (R) and Bouthaina Shaaban, adviser of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attend a working lunch at a restaurant in the old Damascus March 10

President Bashar al-Assad told U.N./Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Saturday that no political solution was possible in Syria while “terrorist” groups were destabilizing the country.

“Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing,” state news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling his guest.

“No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability,” the Syrian leader said after about two hours of talks with the former U.N. secretary-general.

There was no immediate comment from Annan after the meeting, aimed at halting bloodshed that has cost thousands of lives since a popular uprising erupted a year ago.

While they discussed the crisis, Syrian troops were assaulting the northwestern city of Idlib, a rebel bastion.

“Regime forces have just stormed into Idlib with tanks and heavy shelling is now taking place,” said an activist contacted by telephone, the sound of explosions punctuating the call.

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March 10, 2012 Posted by | Syria | , , | Leave a comment

KP bans 27 private security companies

The International News  March 3, 2012

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government while canceling licenses put bar on 27 private security companies and ordered action against them.

According to the KP home department sources, the government imposed banned on 27 private security companies as most of the companies don’t have even a single office in the province while remaining are unregistered companies.

Sources said that some companies, providing security to United Nations missions, are also unregistered.

KP home department has issued memo to all commissioners directing them to seal the offices of the banned companies and take action against them under Private Security Company Ordinance 2002.

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March 3, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Pakistan, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

UN peacekeeper killed in Darfur ambush

Rueters Africa  United Nations February 29, 2012

A U.N.-African Union peacekeeper was killed and three others were wounded in Sudan’s conflict-torn western Darfur region on Wednesday when their patrol was ambushed, the United Nations said.

“A patrol moving from Nyala to Shearia in south Darfur was ambushed at Baraka village. The initial reports indicate that three peacekeepers were wounded and one was killed,” said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky. No further details were available.

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Africa, United Nations | , , , , | 2 Comments

U.N. Staff Leaves an Afghan Office

The New York Times   February 29, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United Nations withdrew its international staff from an office in Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, this week after the office was stormed over the weekend by an angry mob protesting the burning of several Korans by the American military.

The attack on Saturday, by a crowd of about 500 people armed with sticks, stones and metal pipes, raised fears of a repeat of the assault on the United Nations office in Mazar-e-Sharif last spring that killed 12 people, including 7 United Nations staff members. This time, though, security guards and police officers in Kunduz were able to stop the crowd from breaching the walls of the office. But with the situation still volatile senior United Nations officials decided not to take the risk of having international staff remain there.

Denise Jeanmonod, a United Nations spokeswoman in Kabul, said that about 15 international staff members had left the Kunduz office and returned to Kabul. Only the staff of the Kunduz office has been withdrawn because of the recent unrest, she said.

The British, French and German Embassies have withdrawn their international staff from advisory jobs in Afghan ministries, but United Nations employees in advisory jobs in such positions have continued to work in Kabul

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February 29, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Soldiers Brought Deadly Superbug to Americas

UN Soldiers are not alone in spreading Cholera.

Civilian Contractors are being hospitalized with Cholera patients, infected, and then repatriated.

ABC News January 12, 2012

Compelling new scientific evidence suggests United Nations peacekeepers have carried a virulent strain of cholera — a super bug — into the Western Hemisphere for the first time.

The vicious form of cholera has already killed 7,000 people in Haiti, where it surfaced in a remote village in October 2010. Leading researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere told ABC News that, despite UN denials, there is now a mountain of evidence suggesting the strain originated in Nepal, and was carried to Haiti by Nepalese soldiers who came to Haiti to serve as UN peacekeepers after the earthquake that ravaged the country on Jan. 12, 2010 — two years ago today. Haiti had never seen a case of cholera until the arrival of the peacekeepers, who allegedly failed to maintain sanitary conditions at their base.

“What scares me is that the strain from South Asia has been recognized as more virulent, more capable of causing severe disease, and more transmissible,” said John Mekalanos, who chairs the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. “These strains are nasty. So far there has been no secondary outbreak. But Haiti now represents a foothold for a particularly dangerous variety of this deadly disease.”

More than 500,000 Haitians have been infected, and Mekalanos said a handful of victims who contracted cholera in Haiti have now turned up in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and in Boston, Miami and New York, but only in isolated cases

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January 14, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bug Watch, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Haiti, Health Watch, Pakistan, United Nations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Press Conference by Working Group on Mercenaries

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York  November 1, 2011

Faiza Patel, Chair of the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, told correspondents today about the Working Group’s visits to Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Iraq.

During a press conference at Headquarters, Ms. Patel explained that the Working Group, which consists of five independent experts, covered the activities of mercenaries, as well as those of private military and security companies. Yesterday, she had presented the Working Group’s report to the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). She said the Working Group had visited Equatorial Guinea and South Africa in 2010 and Iraq in 2011. (See Press Release GA/SHC/4023.)

Equatorial Guinea had been the site of a coup by mercenaries in 2004, many of whom had come from South Africa, she said, which had led to prosecutions in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Government of Equatorial Guinea had also alleged an attempted coup in 2009. The Working Group had been unable to verify those claims, but found that that there were credible reports that those arrested had been tortured and were denied fundamental due process rights in their trials. Four convicted persons were summarily executed one day after the Working Group left.

Please read the entire press release here

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Mercenaries, United Nations | , , , | Leave a comment

State Department Funds US Group to train troops in Somalia

They shot one of Van Blerk’s South African Bancroft colleagues as well as a contractor from a demining company and 10 Ugandan soldiers trained in bomb disposal. The demining contractor and six of the Ugandans died. Dark trails of blood smear the floor inside the house where the trainer crawled for cover. Another Bancroft employee was shot in the stomach the day before but survived.

Associated Press at Huffington Post August 10, 2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — On the front lines of Mogadishu’s streets, Islamist militants battle African Union troops. Standing alongside the peacekeepers are members of an American-run team of advisers, former military men who play a little-known but key role in the war against al-Shabab.

Aside from covert raids by special operations forces, the U.S. government has not been involved militarily in Somalia since the intervention almost two decades ago that culminated in the Black Hawk Down battle. But a Washington-based company has been quietly working in one of the world’s most dangerous cities to help an AU peacekeeping force protect the Somali government from al-Qaida-linked Islamist insurgents.

While troops struggle to get control of this shattered capital that has been filling with refugees fleeing famine in southern Somalia, The Associated Press got rare access to the military advisers, providing a first look into their work.

The men employed by Bancroft Global Development live in small trailers near Mogadishu’s airport but often go into the field. It’s dangerous work — two Bancroft men were wounded last month.

Among the advisers are a retired general from the British marines, an ex-French soldier involved in a coup in Comoros 16 years ago, and a Danish political scientist.

Funded by the United Nations and the U.S. State Department, Bancroft has provided training in a range of military services, from bomb disposal and sniper training to handing out police uniforms

Please read the entire article at the Hufffington Post

August 10, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Somalia, State Department, United Nations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

27 Afghan mine sweepers freed, four dead

Online International News Network  July 12.2011

KABUL: Twenty-seven Afghan mine sweepers kidnapped by gunmen in western Afghanistan have been freed but four others were killed, an official said on Monday.’Last night, all 27 of our mine clearers were freed by the kidnappers,’ Daud Farahi, manager of the Demining Agency for Afghanistan, told the German Press Agency dpa.’We were in negotiation with the kidnappers through tribal leaders, as result of the tribal talks they were released.’

July 11, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Demining | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eritrea: Opposition Asks for International Support As Volcano Kills Seven

All Africa.com  June 22,2011


Addis Ababa — An exiled Eritrean opposition group on Wednesday called on the international community to immediately act to provide urgent assistance to the thousands of Eritreans it said are affected by the Narbo volcano that erupted over a week ago in the country’s south.

The Addis Ababa-based Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) said the volcanic eruption has killed at least seven people, injured many others and displaced thousands of people.

“We call on the international community to swiftly use diplomatic pressure over the Eritrean government to allow an international humanitarian aid to the thousands of volcano-hit people” reached by phone Yasin Mohamed Abdela, RSADO spokesperson told Sudan Tribune from the Ethiopia-Eritrea border.

Independent news about the eruption is hard to come by as Eritrea does not allow independent local journalists or foreign correspondents into the the Red Sea nation.

The RSADO official accused the Eritrean government of hiding the level of the disaster. He said that his party holds the Eritrean government accountable for the loss of life and other related damage caused by the volcanic activity.

“The Eritrean government had the knowledge in advance on the occurrence of the volcanic eruption and evacuated hundreds of its soldiers from the area one day ahead of the eruption however [they did not give] advanced notice to the inhabitants nor did [the government] evacuate them to safety” Yasin said.

The UN or other NGOs are reportedly not allowed to leave the capital, for independent assessments of the situation of the people. Since Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia in 1991 the country has been retiscent to allow a large UN and NGO presence in the country stating that it did want to become dependent on foreign aid.

“The Eritrean government is well known of deliberately blocking access to foreign media coverage in the country to avoid any possible international intervention” Yasin said.

“This is what the latest incident proves – hide the level of the impact, neglect and trade its own people to its odd ties with the international community” he added.

After over a week-long silence, Eritrean state television last night confirmed the causalities after the Red Sea Afar rebels released a statement on their website regarding the deaths and damage the volcano had caused.

Please read the entire story here

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Africa, NGO's, United Nations | , , , , | Leave a comment