Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

U.S. Urged to Increase Bomb-Clearing Aid for Laos

WASHINGTON  Inter Press Service  July 10, 2012

Disarmament activists and former U.S. ambassadors are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to increase U.S. aid to Laos to clear millions of tonnes of unexploded ordinance (UXO) left by U.S. bombers on its territory during the Indochina War during her brief visit to the country Wednesday.

The visit, scheduled to last only a few hours on a hectic eight-nation tour by Clinton designed in part to underline the Barack Obama administration’s “pivot” from the Middle East to Asia, will nonetheless be historic. No sitting U.S. secretary of state has visited Laos since 1955.

Sources here said Clinton is considering a 100-million-dollar aid commitment to support bomb-clearing efforts over a 10-year period. Such a commitment would more than double the nearly 47 million dollars Washington has provided in UXO assistance since 1997 when it first began funding UXO programmes in Laos.

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July 10, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Humanitarian Assistance, State Department, UXO | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13,000 Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) Cleared from Majnoon Oilfield

Iraq Business News  June 27, 2012

Hans Nijkamp, the head of Shell‘s operations in Iraq, has highlighted the success in removing explosive remnants of war (ERW) at the Majnoon oilfield, in which Shell has a 45% stake.

Speaking at CWC‘s Iraq Petroleum 2012 conference in London last week, Nijkamp said that more than 12 million square metres had been cleared so far, and work was proceeding at a rate of around 70,000 m2 per day.

Over 250 staff from 4 different contractors were involved in the operation, and well over 13,000 items have been removed and disposed of through controlled demolition by the Iraqi Army. The largest single item was a 500 kg explosive.

Shell’s other partners in the Majnoon venture are Petronas (30% share) and the Missan Oil Company, representing the Iraqi State (25% share).

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Iraq, Landmines, UXO | , , , , , | 1 Comment

List of Unexploded Arms in Libya Is Called Lacking

The New York Times Africa  June 25, 2012

The release by NATO of a list of unexploded munitions from the alliance’s military action in Libya has been both welcomed as a step toward postconflict accountability and criticized as a half-measure that falls short of protecting civilians and specialists trying to rid the country of its hazards.

The United Nations said this month that NATO, in an exchange not publicly disclosed, had shared details of 313 possible sites of unexploded ordnance from the alliance’s action against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government last year. The alliance provided the latitude and longitude for each site, the weight of the ordnance and a description of the means of delivery (fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter gunship or naval vessel).

With the widespread use of sophisticated targeting sensors, with which aircrews record infrared video of the impact of a missile or bomb, air forces have a greater capacity than ever to know exactly where weapons struck and when they have failed to function properly. Such data is routinely gathered as part of what militaries call battle damage assessment. It is used to determine whether a target has been destroyed or should be hit again, and to assess the reliability and effectiveness of various missiles and bombs.

The data also presents options for humanitarian and cleanup efforts. When shared, it can allow for governments and mine-clearing organizations to alert residents of specific risks at specific places, and to focus efforts on removing high-explosive remnants of war. Its existence also suggests an opening for Western militaries to adopt a new standard for responsibility in air campaigns.

For these reasons, the United Nations, which had asked NATO for the data last year, welcomed the list, even though it contained limited information.

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June 25, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Libya, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations, UXO | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Death Illustrates Issues With Loose Weapons Stockpiles in Libya

The New York Times  June 13, 2012

The death of an Estonian explosive ordnance disposal technician in Libya this spring illustrates the continuing problem of loose weapons stockpiles almost a year after Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was driven from power.

The technician, Kaido Keerdo, died in March while examining unexploded munitions scattered near a police compound and checkpoint in Ad Dafniyah as part of his work for the nongovernmental group Danish Church Aid.

The checkpoint had been fought over by rival Libyan militias three nights before. The groups were quarreling over access to 22 shipping containers of Qaddafi-era munitions, according to the aid group’s investigation, the findings of which were described this week to The New York Times.

One of the containers was struck during the fighting and caught fire. The explosion that followed ruptured at least 11 containers, heaving into the air a poorly stored collection of grenades, rockets and mortar rounds, some of which landed almost 500 yards away.

The munitions, once seen by Libya’s armed groups as instruments for breaking free from internal repression and making the country safe, were then scattered near houses, a mosque and a school along Libya’s main coastal road. The inadequately trained militias and ad hoc police officers had stored rockets and shells with fuzes inserted, a configuration that compounded their dangers.

Among this refuse were 122-millimeter rockets containing Type 84 land mines, one of the most volatile weapons in Libya’s prewar stocks. Mr. Keerdo, a demining team leader, was surveying the police compound and apparently knelt near one of these rockets. At least one mine exploded, killing him instantly.

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June 15, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Libya, NGO's, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations, UXO | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lankan boy dies as bomb explodes in hands during beachcombing

Khaleej Times Qadijah Irshad / 6 June 2012

COLOMBO — A 15-year-old boy was killed when a bomb belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) exploded in his hands at a beach in Nainateevu, Jaffna.

Investigations have revealed that the ‘Arul bomb’ which the boy had picked up on the beach 10 minutes away from his home, was corroded and was unidentifiable as an explosive.

The bomb was a popular explosive used by the LTTE during the three-decade war against the Sri Lankan army.

“We were able to determine that the Arul bomb the boy had picked up was heavily corroded to an extent that the boy could not identify it as an explosive. We believe it might have exploded when he tried to clear the corrosion because he would have thought it was something of value,” said Military Spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya.

The parents of the boy said that their son had the habit of combing the beach for interesting items every morning.

June 5, 2012 Posted by | ERW, Explosive Remnants of War, Sri Lanka, UXO | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambodia’s Most Dangerous Job?

Working in the fields isn’t typically considered a dangerous job. But with plantations still littered with unexploded ordnance, some Cambodians are looking for companies to step up.

The Diplomat May 30, 2012

Frustration grips Von Tha’s face as she fumbles with a hand that no longer works. Ron Run says that seeing his wife’s physical and mental struggle has, for him, been one of the hardest parts of the family’s ordeal. Two months since the explosion at a cassava plantation in Kratie, and the group of five are still feeling its effects. It’s a case that underscores the danger for workers at contaminated sites.

In Cambodia, companies and landowners can choose whether or not to clear areas used for commercial purposes such as agriculture, mining or ecotourism. With improved access to previously difficult to reach areas comes increased economic interest in utilising the land. Accidents on land used for enterprise illustrate the importance of ensuring known-risk areas are cleared of explosive remnants of war (ERW) before workers can enter the site and start tilling the soil.

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June 4, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Cambodia, Civilian Contractors, Demining, ERW, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Safety and Security Issues, UXO | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weapon contamination in Libya

InterCross ICRC   From the Field  May 30, 2012

The ICRC in Libya started to address the humanitarian consequences of explosive remnants of war immediately after the figting ended in April 2011.

In an effort to protect returning residents, our explosive ordnance disposal teams entered Sirte and Bani Walid at a time when unexploded ordnance caused on average one casualty a day.

They proceeded to train hundreds of Libyans in risk education, including members of the Libyan Red Crescent. These volunteers now work in local communities in the regions and cities most affected by the problem.

The total number of mines and explosive remnants of war in Libya is unknown but the weapons continue to kill and maim, primarily children and young men.

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June 4, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Libya, NGO's, Safety and Security Issues, UXO | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Munitions at Bagram Air Field range killing, maiming villagers

Next to U.S. firing range in Afghanistan, a village of victims

The Washington Post May 26, 2012

BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN — The American grenade that nearly killed 10-year-old Shah Mohammed landed on an unmarked firing range in a scrubby desert, in the shadow of the largest U.S. military base in the country.

Like hundreds of other U.S. explosives fired here, it was supposed to detonate on impact. Like hundreds of others, it didn’t

It remained unexploded until Mohammed stumbled upon the ordnance while looking for scrap metal this month. He had nearly gathered enough shrapnel and bullet shells to trade for an ice cream cone. Then the 40mm grenade tore through the boy’s 87-pound body, breaking through bone and tendon and nerve. When Mohammed’s father, Shahzad Gul, found his son, he thought to himself: “All of his blood is gone.”

 

On the periphery of Bagram Airfield, farmers, scrap-metal collectors and sheep herders have been crippled, blinded and burned by U.S. military ammunition on an unfenced and poorly marked training ground. Called the East River Range, the training ground is blanketed with unexploded U.S. ordnance that was dropped from helicopters and fired from vehicles as part of battlefield rehearsals.

 

There is no barrier between nearby villages and the range — it is unclear where the dusty townships end and the vast military training area begins. The only apparent warnings are scrawled in faded, barely decipherable English lettering on concrete blocks: “Small Arms Range” and “Weapon Range.” There is no translation in Dari or Pashto, the two most common languages in Afghanistan.

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May 27, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Improvised Explosive Devices, UXO | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Estonian deminer dies in Libya blast

The Daily Star  March 5, 2012

TALLINN: An Estonian demining expert died in a blast in Libya while clearing unexploded ordnance left over from the civil war that toppled Moamer Kadhafi, the Baltic state’s foreign ministry said Monday.

The 31-year-old, who worked for Danish charity DanChurchAid, was killed on Saturday as he was disposing of a charge, ministry spokeswoman Helen Rits told AFP.

She declined to give further details.

The Baltic News Service reported that the man died in Dafniya, a town 180 kilometres (112 miles) west of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

It said Kadhafi loyalists had laid mines in the area in an attempt to stem an assault on Tripoli, as rebels moved ever-closer to ousting Kadhafi’s 42-year regime.

Kadhafi was overthrown and killed in October and the country’s new rulers, the Libyan National Transitional Council, have appealed for foreign explosives experts to help clean up the debris of war.

The Estonian had worked in several post-conflict zones in the past for his homeland’s authorities and a range of international organisations.

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March 5, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Safety and Security Issues, UXO | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All-clear for West Runton’s Links Country Park Hotel after bomb squad remove mortar

Bomb disposal experts safely removed an unexploded wartime device from the golf course of a north Norfolk hotel this morning after an all-night police vigil at the site.

EDP 24  February 10, 2012

A Colchester-based bomb squad arrived at first light to examine the live bomb, discovered by a workman yesterday afternoon at West Runton’s Links Country Park Hotel.

Experts X-rayed it twice before identifying it as a two-inch second world war mortar, according to Marc Mackenzie, director of Links owners Mackenzie Hotels.

They then took the bomb back to Colchester where Mr Mackenzie understood it would be destroyed by a civilian contractor.

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February 10, 2012 Posted by | ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 aid workers kidnapped in Somalia, Danish Demining group says

(CNN) Three aid workers — an American woman, a Danish man and a Somali man — have been kidnapped in Somalia, the Danish Demining Group said Tuesday.

Investigations are under way to find out what has happened to the three staff members, the group, which is part of the Danish Refugee Council, said in an online statement.

“We are keeping close contact with the family members, who are deeply concerned, just as we are,” said Ann Mary Olsen, head of the Danish Refugee Council’s international department.

The three workers were kidnapped by gunmen after visiting humanitarian projects, the council said. No shots were fired during the kidnapping, it said.

“The staff members are highly experienced and trained to work in high-risk places, such as Somalia,” Olsen added.

Denmark’s foreign minister, Villy Sovndal, told CNN’s Danish affiliate TV2 the situation is “very serious.”

“Our Africa office here at the Foreign Ministry is collecting information on what has happened. We are following it minute by minute. We are doing everything we can,” he said.

“We do not negotiate with kidnappers, but we offer all help and support that we can. But what this help will constitute we can’t say until we get all the facts on what has happened.”

Villads Zahle, head of press for the council, told CNN the three were working for the Danish Demining Group in northern Galkayo, considered part of Somalia’s Puntland province, at the time of the abduction.

The group does “humanitarian demining,” Zahle said, aimed at making civilians safe from landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The news that the workers were missing was confirmed by the council’s office in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he added.

All Danish Refugee Group activities in the area have been temporarily suspended, the council’s online statement said.

Several high-profile abductions of foreigners have occurred in recent weeks in Kenya, close to the border with largely lawless Somalia. Those kidnappings have been blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab

October 26, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Kidnapped, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Safety and Security Issues, Somalia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lanka’s half million mines will take a decade to clear

Reuters/Mannar The Gulf Times    September 21, 2010

Post-war Sri Lanka will need another decade to clear the half million landmines which lie buried under swathes of agricultural and forest land and around villages in the north of the island nation, the head of a demining group said.
The country is in its third year of peace after government forces defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers in a civil war which lasted a quarter of a century, killing and injuring tens of thousands of people.
But as people who fled the fighting return home to rebuild their lives, they still face the threat of anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) like bombs, rockets and hand grenades left behind by the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan army.
“Based on our current clearance rates, there are perhaps half a million landmines that need to be cleared,” said Nigel Robinson, country head of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), which has cleared 60,000 mines
since 2002.
“So it’ll perhaps take 10 years for Sri Lanka to become fully mine-impact free, assuming the current capacity of de-miners can be maintained,” he told Reuters in an interview from a clearing in a minefield in the northwest district of
Mannar.
The FSD has 750 de-miners clearing the mines, aided by other specialist groups. There are no official figures on exactly how many mines and UXOs were used during the war, although some reports suggest more than a million mines were planted during the 25 years

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September 22, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Humanitarian Assistance, NGO's, Sri Lanka | , , , , , , | 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

LIBYA: Looming threat of scattered munitions in the east

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

CAIRO, 16 May 2011 (IRIN) – There is so much ammunition and unexploded ordnance (UXO) scattered across eastern Libya that local people will face a serious threat when they return home. However, it is difficult to determine the exact quantities because of ongoing fighting, experts say.

“In Tabrouk and Benghazi there are munition bunkers that were destroyed by [government] forces prior to the establishment of the no-fly zone,” Tekimiti Gilbert, spokesman for the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), said. “Gaddafi’s forces bombed the bunkers to deprive rebels of weapons. As a result, a lot of ammunition is spread across a wide area on the surface of the ground.

“Because there was access to bunkers, local people are scavenging for scrap metal for re-sale and also explosives which can be used for fishing,” he told IRIN.

UNMAS is working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Libyan Red Cross and other partners to try to contain the problem. “In Ajdabiya, clearance of UXO in the city has started,” Gilbert said. “But we have a situation of people scavenging inside insecure munition bunkers and large areas to cover.

“One area can be made up of between 10-50 individual bunkers, which could cover an area of approximately 20 football fields.”

Photo UNMAS Unwelcome guest: A UXO on a kitchen floor in an apartment in Adjabiya

UXO, including rockets, shells and mortars, are strewn across public places and residential areas in Misrata, Ajdabiya and Benghazi, according to the ICRC. In Ajdabiya, a threat exists from unexploded devices around and even inside houses.

Local populations have also accessed munitions that were stored in army bases in Ajdabiya, Benghazi and Tobruk, before they were abandoned in early March. Some of the stores exploded, scattering the munitions over vast areas. UXO has also been found in destroyed armoured fighting vehicles, truck-mounted rocket launchers and other military vehicles.

In mid-April, UXO was found in three homes in Ajdabiya, including remnants of a BM-21 rocket embedded in the wall. More was found in other homes. Ten large bombs and 18 smaller missiles were destroyed around Benghazi.

The situation, according to UNMAS, is under-reported because most areas of contamination are in battle zones and cannot be reached.

“There is no immediate visual impact because inhabitants of towns inside battle zones have evacuated eastwards to Benghazi,” Gilbert said. “Ajdabiya, etc, are fairly empty. The issue is when displaced people return to their homes where they will be confronted with the risk of unexploded ordnance.

Fighter jet defused

“MAG [Mine Action Group] were tasked with a fighter jet that crash-landed 40km east of Benghazi, but still had live ammunition and weapons attached to the aircraft,” Gilbert said. “With assistance from the National Military Council, medics cordoned off the area to allow the demolition of the weapons on the aircraft. MAG also worked on a government fighter jet that went down near Benghazi.”

MAG is working alongside the Swiss Demining Group, DanChurchAid and the ICRC. “The effort will be extended to conflict-torn Misrata in the near future,” said Herby Elmazi, ICRC operational clearance delegate. In Ajdabiya, the ICRC is working inside the city to clear abandoned ammunition and UXO before most people return, while Handicap International has partnered with the Scout Movement to undertake education through outreach teams.

Since conflict broke out in Libya in mid-February, various reports have emerged of the use of anti-vehicle mines, anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other ordnance by both sides to the conflict. The government of Libya is not a signatory to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty nor the Convention on Cluster munitions.

The National Transitional Council, which controls the east, has directed that “no forces under [its] command and control will use anti-personnel or anti-vehicle landmines”.

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May 16, 2011 Posted by | Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Libya, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , | 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.

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