Overseas Civilian Contractors

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Libya’s abandoned weapons put civilians at risk: report

Abandoned weapons that were once part of toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s arsenal pose an ongoing and serious threat to civilians in Libya, warned a report published by Harvard University on Thursday

Times Live  August 2, 2012

“These weapons may have been abandoned, but their ability to harm civilians remains intact,” said Bonnie Docherty, leader of the research team sent to Libya by Harvard Law School and partner organisation CIVIC.

Weapons left behind after last year’s conflict range from bullets and mortars to torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles, creating an “explosive situation” in a country with a weak central government, the report said.

“The sheer scale of weapons here is shocking,” co-author Nicolette Boehland told AFP in Tripoli.

“Arms are spilling out of hundreds of inadequately secured bunkers. Other weapons have spread across the country to militia stockpiles in urban centers, museums, fields and even homes,” she added.

Threats to civilians include stockpiles at risk of explosion in or near populated areas, civilian curiosity and access to contaminated sites and munitions, plus the harvesting of abandoned weapons for sale or personal use.

Civilians are endangered during the clearance of munition by local communities that lack professional training and the display of weapons as mementos of war, the report found.

In one instance, in the western town of Dafniya, where a brigade kept weapons in some 22 shipping containers, an explosion spread so much dangerous material that it endangered the whole community.

Steve Joubert of JMACT (Joint Mine Action Coordination Team) was quoted as saying that there are “now more weapons than people in Misrata,” in reference to Libya’s third-largest city, which suffered a brutal siege in 2011.

The report noted that the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and international organisations have shouldered the brunt of the work in clearing ordnance and advising local communities on stockpile management.

Citing UNMAS, Boehland said that as of June, there had been at least 208 casualties, including 54 fatalities, from explosive remnants of war. The toll included 72 children either wounded or killed.

“Children are especially attracted to weapons because they are brightly coloured or look like toys,” she said, noting that the number of casualties is likely to be higher than those documented so far.

The report called on Libya’s newly elected authorities to develop a national strategy to secure leftover ordnance and manage stockpiles. It urged international organisations, notably NATO, to help out.

NATO’s bombings of ammunition bunkers during the conflict last year “spread ordnance across open fields, thus creating a more dangerous and difficult problem,” it said.

August 2, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Libya, NATO, United Nations, UXO | , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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.

Please see the original and read more here

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

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

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

DRC: Moved onto a Minefield

KISANGANI, 4 April 2011 (IRIN) More than 1,000 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been ordered to move to a suspected minefield because the authorities want to build shops and restaurants on the site of their old homes.

However, Kisangani mayor Augustin Osumaka Lofanga told IRIN; “The landmine argument doesn’t stand up.

“If there is a risk, it is only 10 percent. Nobody has died yet,” he said, adding that demining of the area had already been conducted by Handicap International Belgium and “if not properly done, it is their responsibility.

“This is a simple demolition of shacks and makeshift homes. Investors should take advantage of the land to build inns, hotels and flats.”

On 4 March the mayor told the 1,350 villagers of Tsamaka they had 30 days to move about 100m towards the suspected minefield, and on 18 March, with police in attendance, the local authorities started destroying their shacks – against the advice of the UN Mine Action Centre (UNMAC), and despite the fact that Mechem Demining was to have begun mine-clearance operations there on 1 April.

April 4, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Demining, United Nations | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AFGHANISTAN: Deminers in the firing line

Deminers say they are widely respected as “neutral humanitarians”

KABUL, 18 January 2011 (IRIN) – Taliban insurgents and other armed groups as well as criminal gangs in Afghanistan have been deliberately targeting demining NGOs, particularly in the volatile southern provinces, says the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO).

At least 10 deminers were killed, 23 injured and 12 abducted in 2010, said ANSO.

ANSO’s figures differed from those supplied to IRIN by the UN-affiliated Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan (MACCA), which said 17 deminers were killed, 35 injured and 73 abducted in 2010.

“Most commonly it [insurgent opposition to demining activities] is simply to do with them clearing areas that the IEA [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] wants to leave untouched perhaps because they laid the field, or benefit from it not being usable by other forces,” ANSO director Nic Lee told IRIN.

In some instances, attacks on deminers were preceded by warnings, and sometimes “high-profile demining support vehicles” were mistaken for security targets and attacked, he said.

ANSO advises NGOs to seek security through transparent dialogue with all combatants and avoid involvement in counterinsurgency activities.

“We have not made any additional recommendations to them [deminers] specifically, other than to highlight that attacks against them account for a high percentage of NGO events,” said Lee, adding that demining organizations were professional and understood the risks they were taking.

Targeted

Attacks on NGOs in 2010 were down by 27 percent on 2009 but fatalities rose by 42 percent, and a high percentage of deaths were among deminers. Of the 28 NGO members killed, eight were foreigners and half of the remainder were Afghan deminers, according to ANSO.

“Without doubt the purpose of some attacks is precisely what it seems to be, to kill or injure NGO staff. Of the 51 cases under review here, we assess that eight (14 percent) fall into this worst of categories, but more alarmingly seven of these [attacks] targeted demining organizations. This reflects a clear and direct opposition to the work of deminers,” said an ANSO report covering the fourth quarter of 2010 seen by IRIN and due to be published on the ANSO website soon.

ANSO’s third quarter report spelt out the risks facing deminers: “The data suggests that the highest risk of kinetic attack remains towards demining NGOs who can be attacked for their perceived role in battlefield clearance as well as the superficial similarity of their vehicle convoys to those of security forces, while others are at risk of
1) accidental targeting especially with an IED [improvised explosive device]
2) circumstantial encounter with AOG [armed opposition group] at a check-post and
3) murder by AOG in a lawless area….
The data shows that the only NGO staff deliberately targeted [ANSO italics] by the IEA this year have been deminers.”

Armed violence hit unprecedented levels across the country in 2010, with an average of 800 security incidents per month, and there are no signs of it abating in 2011, ANSO said.

Demining agencies have detected and destroyed millions of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in Afghanistan over the past three decades but in some parts of the country landmines and ERWs still kill and maim dozens of people every month.

Over 14,000 people are working for demining organizations in Afghanistan, MACCA’s director Haider Reza told IRIN, adding that the general environment of insecurity and criminality was largely to blame for casualties among deminers.

“Respected… as neutral”

“Deminers are widely respected in Afghanistan as neutral humanitarian workers,” said Reza, adding that Taliban “supreme leader” Mullah Omar issued a decree in support of demining activities in 1996.

Farid Homayoun, director of the demining NGO Halo Trust International, told IRIN his organization was sensitive to local demands and focused on pre-2001 mines: “We closely work with local communities and only clear the areas which the local people want us to clear… We are only clearing landmines left from the Russians [1979-1989] and the internal [1992-2001] wars.”

“We don’t believe we are deliberately attacked… We’re not a target,” said Homayoun, adding that one Halo Trust deminer was killed last year and several others kidnapped but later released.

No Taliban spokesman was immediately available to comment about the group’s position on demining organizations, though demining activities were allowed under the Taliban in 1995-2001.

The insurgents are known to have used IEDs and landmines in their fight against pro-government forces, disproportionately harming civilians, according to the UN and other human rights groups.

Afghanistan is a signatory to the Ottawa Convention on Landmines and the government says it has already destroyed all its landmine stockpiles and has stopped importing and using them.

Demining agencies have set 2013 as a deadline to rid Afghanistan of all landmines. However, given the growing violence, it remains to be seen whether this target is achievable, say experts.  See the original here

January 18, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, NGO's, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN aid worker kidnapped in Somalia

MOGADISHU (AFP) Gunmen in Somalia kidnapped Sunday a local employee with UN demining agency Mine Action, officials and relatives said.

Said Moalim Bashir, a public liaison officer for the agency, was captured while travelling to Mogadishu from Teredishe, a densely populated area outside the capital where thousands of displaced families live, they said.

“We got the information regarding his kidnap today (Sunday) after his driver who was apparently held with him was released,” a local Mine Action official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We don?t know his whereabouts but we have confirmed he was taken hostage by gunmen,” the official said.

Somalia?s Islamist Shebab insurgents banned the operations of Mine Action in southern Somalia in December 2009, accusing the organisation of disturbing peace and justice in the country.

Unknown hooded gunmen stopped Bashir’s car near a camp for displaced persons and later released his driver, a relative told AFP.

“They intercepted his car and forced the driver to turn the vehicle from its direction, taking Bashir with them, and no one knows his fate so far,” relative Abdukar Mohamed told AFP.

“The kidnappers did not make any contact yet and they switched his phone off. We are very worried about his situation,” he said.

Kidnappings, including of foreign nationals, is rampant in Somalia, a Horn of Africa country ravaged by cycles of devastating violence and lawlessness and struggling to resist a push by Islamist insurgents.

July 18, 2010 Posted by | Africa, Demining, United Nations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment