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Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors


UN News Centre

18 December 2012 – The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country.

“As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“All Somalis have the right to security, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” she added.

After decades of factional fighting, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless States on the planet. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.

The Working Group commended the formation of the new Government and its efforts to establish a functioning, peaceful and democratic nation. It noted, however, that the new administration needed to reinforce its control over the private armed security sector through redefined laws and offered its assistance in developing such legislation by drawing on best practices learned from other countries.

“Such laws and their consistent application are critical to guarantee that private security providers operate in a legal, transparent and accountable manner,” Working Group-member Anton Katz stated, adding that the availability of private security should not detract from “the urgent need to provide security for all Somalis.”

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not always operated transparently in the East African country and, occasionally, veer away from their prescribed goals of providing simple protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one instance in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which was created with the aim to repel the continuing scourge of piracy afflicting the Somali coast.

The Working Group established that the PMPF had engaged in operations unrelated to piracy, including a recent case in which the police force had worked to prevent a candidate for the Puntland presidency from campaigning in Bossaso, the area’s largest city.

Ms. Patel warned that the PMPF was operating outside the legal framework and called on local authorities to integrate the force into “the agreed-upon Somali national security structure and ensure that it is used strictly for the purposes for which it is intended.”

Turning to the issue of piracy – a problem which has long affected international shipping in the heavily trafficked waterways off the coast of Somalia – the UN experts said they were satisfied that piracy had decreased over the past year, although they expressed concern at the continuing use of armed guards aboard vessels.

Ms. Patel called upon the international community to reach an agreement on regulations and procedures regarding the use of armed personnel in the shipping industry, cautioning that a failure to do so created risks for human rights violations at sea.

At the same time, the Working Group also examined the use of private contractors by the UN as well as the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and welcomed efforts to ensure that the security providers had a clean human rights record and maintained the “gold standard” when it came to human rights issues.

In addition to Ms. Patel of Pakistan, the working group is currently composed of Patricia Arias of Chile, Elzbieta Karska of Poland, Anton Katz of South Africa, and Gabor Rona of the United States and Hungary. Reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, they are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacities.

Kenya among Africa’s top spenders on military


Business Daily

November 3rd, 2012

Kenya has been ranked among the countries with the highest defence budgets in Africa, thanks to two decades of a steady increase in military expenditure.

It is ranked seventh behind Algeria, South Africa, Angola, Libya, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco, having surpassed Tunisia last year.

The country spent Sh45.8 billion last year down from Sh47.7 billion the previous year but remained by far the highest in East Africa relative to its GDP, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), an independent research organisation.

Algeria had the highest spending on defence at Sh736 billion followed by South Africa with Sh434 billion and Angola at Sh309 billion.

Analysts say Kenya has been spending in a bid to modernise its military hardware. “There has been serious modernisation of the country’s defence systems, which started during the Anglo Leasing scandal,” said Simiyu Werunga, the director of the African Centre for Security and Strategic Studies.

Having ordered eight warships in 2010, Kenya last year sought 67 armoured vehicles— Puma M-26 —of which 37 have so far been delivered at a cost of Sh1.6 billion from South Africa. Kenya also ordered 67 US-made heavy truck diesel engines (B5.9) from South Africa with 37 delivered but at an undisclosed cost. One engine is estimated to cost about Sh500,000, which brings the total to about Sh33 million.

Piracy

Kenya is faced with problems of terrorism, attacks from Oromo militias in Ethiopia and piracy in the Indian Ocean that have exposed the country’s military inadequacies.

“Due to the military “achievement” of KDF against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, Kenya would most likely want to obtain a greater influence on the political and administrative future of the region,” said Sipri in a email to the Business Daily.

Kenya is said to have used recent imports of armoured vehicles from South Africa, helicopters from China (Z-9) and Russia (Mi-17) and refurbished second hand F-5E combat aircraft from Jordan and new M-4 rifles from the USA in Somalia.

But the data does not fully capture the country’s military expedition into Somali which started in October 2011 and is expected to increase the 2012 budget by at least Sh12 billion.

It also received one ex-French P-400 patrol aircraft at an undisclosed price.

The data shows that Kenya’s spending on defence was far much higher than that of Uganda and Tanzania whose budget stood at Sh21 billion and Sh22 billion (local currency) respectively.

Kenya’s military spending as a ratio of GDP has increased for the last 10 years from 1.3 per cent in the year 2000 to 1.9 per cent in 2008. Relatively Kenya rivals unstable democracies like Chad and Central Africa Republic and spends higher than South Africa whose defence budget is 1.3 per cent of the national income.

Uganda however depicted the largest number of weapons imported annually in recent years in the region.

“Overall amongst the three countries Ugandan procurement has been the most extensive and involves the most modern major arms,” said Peter Wezeman senior researcher at Sipri.

Uganda last year bought an unspecified number of anti-ship missiles, guided bombs and short range air- to- air missiles from Russia. It is also expecting the delivery of 150 ex-Ukranian surface to air missiles having received an equal number in 2010.

Uganda has been battling an internal conflict against the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), conflicts in neighbouring DRC and South Sudan and has a substantial number of troops in Somalia. “However, Uganda’s main arms procurement in the past few years— six advanced Su-30Mk combat aircraft from Russia delivered in 2011-2012, has been questionable in the light of Ugandan needs and resources,” says Sipri.

Tanzania imported 30 tanks, diesel truck engines from China and 10 armoured personnel carriers last year alone.

The budget of the Kenya Defence Forces is set to be exposed to scrutiny if a proposed Bill is passed into law. The Bill requires KDF to submit its annual financial reports to Parliament and the President.

rotini@ke.nationmedia.com

Somalia: Saracen International bolts out of Puntland region


Somalian Press

Opinion

by M.A. Egge

The infamous dealers in fatal services, Saracen International, have finally bolted out of Puntland following the sudden assassination of one of their senior commando tutors.

The mercenary company that is believed to be on offspring of Executive Outcomes came into public limelight a couple of years ago when the TFG in Mogadishu were reported to have solicited for their services.

Soon after public international outcries for the Sharif government to quash their contract, the Puntland administration kindled an over better contract with the trainers of killing machines.
Since the public international outcry became public, the Majeertenia were pressured to cease the Saracen engagements.

Ironically, despite the fact that Puntland announced the revocation of Saracen contracts and that they were chucked out of their territory, do now real facts emerge that all along, the dogs of war were home in business!

It is not clear if the security company left the country with the horde of weaponry and other killing appliances they had earlier flown into Puntland.

The hurried bolting was in a hush as they flew out of Bandarqasim airfield in Bossasso on a chartered flight to Djibouti.
It is not clear whether they were on a technical brief sojourne in Djibouti as an expression of disgust in the killing of their personnel or whether it was for real calling it byes.
The South African security trainer is said to have been killed by his bodyguard in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland, officials said Saturday.

Puntland’s government said in a statement Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Friday’s killing. The statement identified the man as Lodewyk Pietersen, and said he worked for Saracen International, a security firm that trains anti-piracy forces in Puntland. The statement said the South African was 55 and married with children.

South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said Saturday no official word has been received from consular staff handling South African interests in Somalia.
“We have not yet been alerted to such an incident,” he said.
The statement said the trainer was killed while accompanying Puntland’s maritime forces on a government-approved mission targeting pirates near Hul-Anod, a coastal area favored by pirates who use it as a base to hijack ships for ransom.

Pietersen was shot dead by his Somali bodyguard after an argument, according to a Puntland official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter. The official said Puntland’s security forces were hunting for the killer.
Somalia’s prime minister recently said that al-Qaida-linked militants were fleeing to mountainous hideouts in Puntland after facing increasing military pressure around Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government for more than two decades, is one of the most dangerous places for foreigners to work.

Related articles

Private firm flouts UN embargo in Somalia


IOL News

By Ivor Powell

February 26, 2012

Eight months after SA-linked private military company Saracen International was fingered in a UN Security Council as the “most egregious threat” to peace and security in the failed state of Somalia, Saracen continues to run and train a private army in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Saracen, one of a cluster of shadowy private military contractors born from the ashes of the SA/British mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes, after nearly 18 months of military activity in the region, has yet to secure permission to operate as a security provider in a region so volatile Somalia has not had a functioning central government for upwards of 20 years.

Tlali Tlali, the spokesman for the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, confirmed that neither the SA arm of the Saracen operation, nor any of the individuals associated with the Somali adventure had applied for accreditation as legitimate security contractors.

UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) co-ordinator Matthew Bryden confirmed the company had failed to seek or secure authorisation from the international authority to operate as a private military contractor in Somalia after being fingered in the Monitoring Group’s June 2011 report.

We understand that the UN is in possession of compelling evidence that Saracen has continued with military training and deployment in defiance of the UN’s general arms embargo. The continuing violations of UN Resolutions 1973 and 1976 are expected to be addressed in detail in the SEMG’s forthcoming annual report at midyear.

Saracen’s operation in Somalia is headed by Executive Outcomes stalwart and – until the mercenary outfit was disbanded – holding company director, Lafras Luitingh. Luitingh is also a director of Australian African Global Investments (AAGI) the company primarily involved in logistical supply and procurement for the operation…Read more.

Africa on K Street: Lobbying Is Not Restricted to the Developed World


Huffington Post.

By Vijava Ramachandran

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

February 13, 2012

The aid community is well-accustomed to pushing for transparency in foreign aid transactions. But are we missing another key flow of money?

A recent article by Geoffrey York, African bureau chief for the Globe and Mail, described a contract signed a few years ago by the Government of Rwanda with Racepoint Group, which was tasked with doing an image makeover for the Rwandan government for a monthly fee of over $50,000. The rationale was that public perceptions of Rwanda were dominated by the horrific genocide that occurred in the 1990s, along with accounts of human rights abuses and media censorship. The contract with Racepoint reportedly aimed to increase the number of stories of Rwanda’s successes and block criticism of the government and its alleged human rights abuses. The effort landed more than 100 positive articles per month in newspapers from the New York Times to BBC, increased discussions of travel to Rwanda by 183%, and decreased discussion of the genocide by 11%, according to Racepoint.

In 2007, Racepoint also led a campaign to promote Libya‘s Gaddafi as an “intellectual and philosopher,” in advance of the thirtieth anniversary of his rule. Four years later, Libyan rebels hired the Washington lobby firm, Patton Boggs to help them unseat Gaddafi.

Other African governments have also invested in lobbyists. The Kenyan government contracted one of the top Washington lobbying firm Chlopak Leonard Schechter to restore its reputation after stories of election-related violence dominated the news headlines. It hoped to further U.S. support for its military and intelligence work, fighting piracy and dealing with the deteriorating situation in Somalia. Chlopak Leonard successfully placed positive stories in US media outlets and was able to call attention in Congress to the Somali crisis. President Obama’s Somalia policy even includes specific recommendations from the Kenyan government’s proposal to fight piracy and terrorism…Read more.

West Africa Rising: Guinea to sign $5.8 billion mining deal with Chinese firm


Christian Science Monitor

By  Drew Hinschaw

August 31, 20011

In Conakry, Guinean officials are on the verge of signing a $5.8 billion mining deal with a Chinese state-owned fund, Reuters reports.

In return for digging rights to a plot outside the capital,China Power Investment would finance the construction of a coal power plant, a deep water port, and a refinery long sought after by the nation’s rulers.

West Africa‘s newest democracy sits on top of half the world’s reserves of bauxite, the principle ore used in aluminum. From independence until last year, Guineawas brutally ruled by a sequence of dictatorships. Now the former French colony is looking to make up five lost decades through quick swaps of mining rights for infrastructure…Read more.

Band aid:Why has Africa had such a small role in the famine relief effort?


Michael Hofman

August 24th, 2011 – Prospect Issue 186 FREE.

Dadaab in northeast Kenya is one of the largest refugee camps in the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hearts demand a generous response to the Horn of Africa famine. Our heads should now ask some tough questions. The UN general assembly, convening on 20th September, should be the venue for frank answers.

For all the calls from international aid donors for African “ownership” of policies involving the continent, for all their pledges to ensure a role for “stakeholders,” for all their advocacy of “community participation,” one thing stands out. Aid agencies have assumed leadership of the famine relief effort in east Africa, and have taken decisions that will impact the region for years to come. Far from providing a hand on the policy tiller, and a voice at the planning table, Africa has sat back, watching from the sidelines the biggest relief operation on the continent since the Ethiopian famine of 1984.

Of course, operating in such a tough neighbourhood is a huge challenge. The drought embraces some of Africa’s most troubled states: Eritrea and Ethiopia are bitter enemies; Sudan is a pariah; the newly-independent South Sudan is a fledgling in world affairs; Somalia, the worst afflicted by famine, has no government; Kenya, where up to 3m are at risk, is a byword for corruption.

But this does not justify Africa’s absence from the operations room. Nor does it explain why a president or senior minister from one of the afflicted states, or a former leader, or at least a top official from the African Union, has not been chosen by peers to take responsibility for coordinating donor assistance and recipient needs.

Instead, Africa has twiddled its thumbs, postponing by a fortnight an African Union “emergency” summit, scheduled to be held on 9th August. Meanwhile, there has been no one to field some awkward questions.

Many lives have been saved by international intervention, but many have been lost by a late response to an obvious crisis; and many more will be affected by decisions made by aid donors after inadequate consultation. Why was the official announcement of the famine, and the appeal for help, made so late in the day? Children were dying of hunger in northeast Kenya weeks earlier: a fact underplayed at the time by elements of the Kenyan media. Who decided when to declare that the famine was leading to a catastrophe? Were African governments involved in the announcement? If not, why not?

It is unclear who is in charge of relief strategy in the Horn; who takes responsibility for decisions such as endorsing the role of Dadaab, the settlement in north east Kenya, as a centre for relief operations and home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis, fleeing the drought. With a population of over 400,000, Dadaab is one of Kenya’s largest “cities.” But catching up fast will be a second such camp: the result of pressure on a reluctant Kenyan government, despite the fact that the country’s weak coalition doesn’t have the governance and security capacity to absorb a huge flow of refugees to another site.

Africa’s economic recovery has gathered pace in recent years, changing many countries dramatically. But decades of decline have left a grim legacy. In far too many places, the state is weak; its capacity to initiate change has shrunk. The reluctance or inability of African governments to play a part in the response to the famine marks yet another step in their surrender of authority and abnegation of responsibility—and the beneficiaries are the very organisations that play such a big role in disaster relief: non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The power and influence of NGOs has grown dramatically since African independence 50 years ago. From a few thousand in the 1960s, controlling funds measured in the millions, there are now over 50,000 NGOs operating in South Africa alone.

Although the NGO record on development is mixed at best, the number of NGOs granted consultative status by the Economic and Social Council—the central UN forum for formulating policy on social and economic issues—has risen from 41 in 1948 to over 1,350 in 2008.

As their numbers have grown, they have helped to undermine what the character named Oldest Member, a crusty retired district officer who lives in Kenya and features in my latest novel, Dizzy Worms, identifies as the social contract. In the novel, he asks himself: “What if the government doesn’t deliver? What if the chaps in the north east come to realise that although there is a ‘food deficit’ every year, they won’t starve?… Why? Cos WorldFeed and Oxfam and their UN chums will chip in. All managed by foreigners. Tens of thousands of the buggers come out each year, catching the gravy train that chuffs its way around Africa… If you are starving, the UN will feed you; if the mozzies are killing your kids, Bill Gates will provide a mosquito net; if your road needs rebuilding, DanAid will help… So if the state can’t deliver, why be loyal? Why pay your taxes? Instead you look to big-man politics—to your relative, to your clan, to the ethnic leaders, or the regional boss.”

In other words, a vicious cycle has been created. As the state surrenders many of its core responsibilities to aid agencies, its capacity to manage deteriorates. In the process, it loses some of the country’s brightest and best to the NGOs and UN agencies, who offer salaries that local employers cannot match.

Soon the aid caravan will move on, leaving the two biggest questions unanswered: where has Africa been during the crisis? And why have international aid donors not raised this question themselves? Generosity without accountability is no way to respond to Africa’s gravest famine for 25 years.

Contractors are Accused in Large-Scale Theft of Food Aid in Somalia


United Nations C-130 Hercules transports deliv...
Image via Wikipedia

Global Policy Forum

August 16, 2011

By Jeffrey Gettleman

New York Times

August 16, 2011

The UN World Food Program (WFP) is investigating allegations that corrupt contractors have stolen thousands of sacks of grain and other supplies intended for Somalian famine victims.  Food theft has occurred in Somalia since the early 90s, causing aid workers to coin the term “traditional distribution” to describe when food aid is stolen to be sold on the black market.  Though this New York Times article largely criticizes al-Shabab and the new Somalian transitional government for active participation (and failed prevention) in this large scale food theft, this is only a part of the picture. The root causes of the famine are largely geopolitical, as the Somali people have been made vulnerable to exhausted food resources due to continuous military and political interventions in the region (particularly by Ethiopia, the AU, and the US).

Beyond freelance gunmen, Islamist militants, cholera, malaria, measles and the staggering needs of hundreds of thousands of starving children, aid agencies scrambling to address Somalia’s famine now may have another problem to reckon with: the wholesale theft of food aid.

As it scales up its operations in Somalia, the United Nations World Food Program is investigating allegations that thousands of sacks of grain and other supplies intended for famine victims have been stolen by unscrupulous businessmen and then sold on the open market for a profit.

“We’re looking into this,” Greg Barrow, a spokesman for the World Food Program, said Tuesday.

He said the World Food Program was first alerted several months ago to the possibility of stolen food aid in the capital, Mogadishu, but added that he did not want to provide specifics, in the event that the allegations were baseless.

Few experienced aid workers believe that all, or even close to all, of the emergency food in Somalia reaches the people it was intended for. Because much of Somalia has been mired in chaos and violence for the past 20 years, large aid organizations tend not to base their own staff members there and instead appoint local groups to monitor aid deliveries, worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year…Read more.

Parsons Awarded Contract by USAID to Support Rural Roads in East Africa


The mid- to late-1990s seal of the United Stat...
Image via Wikipedia

Webwire

August 30, 2011

PASADENA, CAParsons announced today that it has been awarded a contract by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand rural roads in the East African nation of Rwanda. The expansion of Rwanda’s rural road infrastructure will substantially benefit the Rwandan economy by supporting regional trade and giving farmers an improved transportation system and access to markets for their crops—90% of Rwanda’s population is involved in some way with crop cultivation, and improved roads will significantly impact a nation where many farmers live at the subsistence level.

Under this contract, Parsons will provide a roads inventory and condition assessments, prioritization, planning, preparation of technical designs, procurement support, and construction supervision for 1,000 kms of improved roads. The project will benefit Rwandans by employing and training local labor forces—women will comprise at least 30% of the labor force. Parsons will also provide mentor-protégé training on procurement to Rwanda’s District governments that will build local expertise and ultimately enable the Districts to tender maintenance programs directly to rural communities, empowering local work forcesRead more.

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