Thursday, June 29, 2006

U.S. Peace Corps Safety and Security Resources

Here are some links to online adaptations of Peace Corps safety and security resources (from the Center for Global Education's SAFETI Clearinghouse).

Pre-Departure Health Traning Workbook - Personal Safety
Personal Safety and Awareness Workbook
Rape Response Handbook
Crisis Management Handbook
Crisis Management Workbook
Risk Management Workbook

Other adapted Peace Corps material is here.

Incident: Kidnapping, Haiti

A 72-year old Canadian missionary kidnapped on June 18 from his home north of Port-au-Prince was released after a ransom was paid. Ed Hughes, the victim, was shot in the arm last December trying to prevent another missionary from being abducted. At least 29 people were kidnapped in Haiti's capital last month, up from 15 in April.

Incident: Resumption, Sri Lanka

German NGO Deutsche Welthungerhilfe staff members were returning to northern Sri Lanka after evacuating to Colombo two weeks ago due to deteriorated security conditions.

Incident: Kidnapping, Afghanistan

Five Afghan aid workers, including three employed by the Swedish Committee forAfghanistan, were released after being held in captivity for four days. The incident took place in the eastern province of Nuristan.

Break-in & Lessons Learned

From a recent Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) report of an incident in Namibia...

A US Government-supported Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) headquartered in Windhoek West was recently the site of an attempted burglary.

At approximately 1300 on June 25, an unknown number of would-be thieves forced open the front pedestrian gate of the NGO office, which is located in a converted residence. The perpetrator(s) tried to pry open several locked windows with a crowbar or similar object, breaking a glass pane in the process. At some point, the attempt to open the windows triggered the alarm system; the perpetrator(s) fled before the alarm response company arrived on scene.

Nothing was taken from the premises in this incident, and no one was injured.

The following "lessons learned," developed through a security survey conducted the following day, may be of interest to American companies and organizations in Namibia, especially those located in converted residential properties:

Use your alarm: The perpetrator(s)' decision to flee upon triggering the alarm is consistent with several previous residential and business break-ins where the sound of an alarm was sufficient to thwart the attempt. We encourage the installation and consistent use of an alarm system that incorporates motion sensors, door/window contacts, and panic buttons. Alarms should be monitored by a professional response company.

Test your Grillwork: Virtually all expatriate businesses, organizations, and residences feature some type grillwork on windows and "man-passable non-window openings." Some grill installations, however, are not sufficient to deter entry by smaller thieves (including children recruited for exactly this purpose) or to prevent reach-and-grab extraction of high-value items located near windows. Take a moment to test your grillwork: can you reach through and extract laptop computers, keyboards, etc. (especially by grasping and dragging power cords which run against walls just under windows)? Can a child pass through the grille? If so, you may need to consider welding additional metal strips to the existing grille to better protect your space.

Pedestrian Gates: With compound walls increasingly fortified with razor wire, electric fencing and other protective measures, intruders have shifted their attention to overcoming the relatively weak locks found on most pedestrian gates. Gates should ideally feature an "anti-tamper strip," a piece of metal running from top to bottom where the gate meets its frame and covering the gap between the frame and gate. The presence of an anti-tamper strip prevents a burglar from attacking the gate with a crowbar straight-on, forcing him/her to approach the gate from a tight angle, making it more difficult to gain leverage.

"Free Burglar Tools:" Many businesses and organizations located in former residential compounds take advantage of their outdoor space to store spare parts, building materials, and other items which could be of use to burglars attempting to gain access to the building itself. Examine your outdoor storage from an intruder's point of view: is there anything on site which would be useful in breaking a window, forcing open a door, etc.

Daytime Controls: Not all break-ins take place after hours. In 2005, criminals staged robberies of several occupied businesses in Windhoek, with violence resulting in at least two incidents. Don’t let your "street gate" be the sole barrier between you and would-be intruders; consider keeping the front door (or grille gate) of the building itself closed and locked throughout the business day. Minimize the number of entrances/exits used by staff and visitors on a regular basis in order to better monitor the flow of people and equipment in and out of your space. Consider implementing a visitors' register to obtain basic personal data and contact information on visitors to your facilities.

Cost-Free Protection: Security at many facilities like the one described above can be enhanced by implementing some virtually cost-free measures. Ensure blinds/curtains are closed on all windows at the end of the day—make the burglars guess which rooms contain the items they are looking for. Lock internal doors, especially for ground-level rooms with windows; doing so may prevent a successful intruder from breaching more than one room. Lock vehicle keys, alarm control buttons, cash, and other small high-value items in a safe or similar secure storage container on the premises.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

RIGHT OF CENTER ICE: PRTs trying to replace International NGOs

RIGHT OF CENTER ICE: PRTs trying to replace International NGOs (Interesting article on Canadian military units doing humanitarian work and some of the implications.)

Open Source Intelligence

PH writes in with the following:

"There is a new section on the Wikipedia regarding Open Source Intelligence. OSINT is of value to NGO Security Practitioners because it is the only type of Intelligence they can gather without risking their Neutrality. OSINT should not be confused with espionage which is the clandestine gather of intelligence by methods which are often illegal in the host nation and not available to NGO Security Practitioners. The NATO Open Source Documents are a good starting point."

We couldn't agree more. This blog is a example of OSINT (coincidentally, it was just favorably mentioned on a leading Open Source Intelligence Web site).

Although some within the NGO community are turned off by the term, intelligence gathering is a critical skill for a successful NGO security practitioner (just swap the word "information" for "intelligence" if you're uncomfortable). If you talk at length to anyone who works for a government intelligence agency, you'll discover the vast majority of information gathered for analysis doesn't come from spies or electronic intercepts, but from public and open sources that anyone can access. The trick is knowing how to collect and analyze the information. The links to the NATO manuals mentioned in Wiki are a great starting point for learning about OSINT methodology.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Debate regarding the private security / military companies

The debate regarding the private security / military companies is an uneasy one. The first instinctive question on the subject is related to an ethical consideration – “Should I respect a person fighting for money?”. Based on an emotional understanding of the subject, the conclusion to a basic analysis of the privatized security industry tend to lead one to take position for or against the use of private security companies. By investigating the issue more deeply, we can distance ourselves from a solely ethico-emotional analysis and bring further the debate.
Thus, if you are looking for some information, I encourage you to have a look on those different website :
- Private Force : so-called “the largest private security community”. Gathers and files many articles on the subject.
- Private Military : bring some interesting articles, information, and yes, links for job-seekers within PSCs / PMCs.
- Frontline : have a look on the documentary. Also interesting interviews.
- BICC : if you want to participate in a forum on the subject.
- Bibliography : excellent bibliography. With the many books on the subject that are currently written, it will be sooner or later out of date, but still, gives a good idea of what to look for.
- Geneva Humanitarian Forum : at least, one humanitarian website dealing with PSCs / PMCs… Provides useful documents and interesting summaries of several books if you don’t have the time to read them, but the page was not updated since June 04…
- I'm sure you already receive too much emails daily, but if you want to get many useful links to up-to-dates articles on the subject, register to these discussion groups is a must : just send an email to and, both partially moderated by Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Associations ("a member-led, non-governmental association of private sector service companies dedicated to improving peacekeeping, peace enforcement, humanitarian rescue, and stability operations worldwide ". Basically, a lobby group supporting the PSCs).

Little has been written on the relations between the PSCs and the humanitarian actors. A part from Singer’s and Cockayne’s ones that you can already find on this blog, I strongly encourage you to have a look on International Alert’s “Humanitarian Action and Private Security Companies : Opening the Debate”; written in 2002, but still very relevant : . If you have more time, you could also see the report of a Conference organised by International Alert in 1999 on “Privatisation of Security, The Framing a Conflict Prevention and Peace building Policy Agenda”.

Thanks to Jean S. Renouf who has written the post. Former humanitarian worker, Jean is currently pursuing a PhD in international relations at the London School of Economics. Jean has lately written an excellent article on “The Impact of security privatisation on humanitarian action”. If you wish to get the article (in English or in French) and/or contact Jean, please let me know.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Afghanistan NGO Security Advisors' commentary

Some Comments on NGO security in Afghanistan

Let’s start with the grim figures. 24 Aid workers were killed in Afghanistan in 2006, of which 19 were direct NGO staff members. All of the casualties in 2006 have been National staff members of National and International NGOs. Looking at the casualties of 2003 (12), 2004 (24) and 2005 (31) and now 2006, Afghanistan has the highest death toll amongst the Aid Community worldwide, to my knowledge.

So far in 2006, around 100 incidences directly involving NGOs have been reported from all around the country. While many people link this directly to the ongoing insurgency in the Southern and South-Eastern part of the country, it is notable that of the casualties, only one had been killed in the South while all the other casualties have occurred in the Northern and Western parts of Afghanistan.

The main cause for all the deaths and incidences mentioned above was not the insurgency, but personal/tribal/ethnic/"business” conflicts. The lack of a safe and secure environment (security and judicial) provided by the host government as well as the International military presence, the acceptance of using violence to settle personal disputes and the fractional society structure all play a major part of creating a very complex environment for NGOs to operate in.
Just because an Afghan is working for a NGO doesn’t mean that he/she is exempt from personal/tribal/ethnic/family violence.

Unfortunately, we are starting to see the first targeted attacks, where the target was the NGO and not an individual who happened to work for an NGO. That said; many NGOs have reduced their field staff in the areas of the ongoing insurgency in order to protect them from becoming collateral damage and project implementation is becoming increasingly difficult in areas of high intensity fighting. Even more dangerous are press statements by the International military, indicating that one of the aims of their large scale operations is to provide space for the Humanitarian community to work in. Statements like these endanger NGO staff in the field as the insurgents may then link NGOs to military operations.

Community acceptance as a risk mitigating strategy is still the most effective way of providing security for NGO staff, but it has limitations as well. When security incidents are used by local “powerplayers” in order to strenghten/protect their interests, community acceptance will not protect NGO staff. The main problem for the Aid Community in these cases is, that no option readily available to them (save stopping project implementation) will protect them and the local security actors (police, military) will not either, because these are too heavily involved in the local structures themselves.

Because of their type of work, nationality or the place where they work, many NGOs have become complacent and some staff members seem to have forgotten the context they were living/working in. The targeted attacks on NGOs in the North of Afghanistan and the riots in Kabul on 29 May 06 have served as a wake up call to many NGOs for some time, but already the first signs of complacency are showing up again.

Christian Willach
ANSO Operations Coordinator
Afghanistan NGO Safety Office
All statistics have been collected by the Afghanistan NGO Security Office

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fighting Rebels and Cholera in Sudan

While most eyes observe Khartoum and Dharfur Southern Sudan gains little public attention. Yet the dangers are clear, inherent and consistent. Since signing the comprehensive peace agreement the Khartoum government has ceded local governance to the SPLA, a force with little experience of government. In some areas the people live ready for a return to conflict, whether internicine or not, and they are always ready for and struck down by disease.
This BBC article simply touches upon the context and prospects for the south.
No Operation Lifeline Sudan, remote NGO operations, conflict over pasture and rustling, extreme conditions and a host of actors ready to fight and a few willing to kill aid workers. It seems rather convenient to blame Joseph Kony and the LRA for everything though!

Friday, June 16, 2006

The private security company debate lingers

Peace Corp written by Rebecca Ulam Weiner first published in the Boston Globe examines the desire by the corporate security sector to advance the delivery of aid. Well, why not? Even if cynics might say its all about the money, isn't there an imperative here? Is the acceptance stategy really valid? Why not use professional security companies to ensure space to work?
Any comment?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Continued violence in Sri Lanka

Violence in Sri Lanka continues to affect its people and the delivery of aid. For a little while all eyes were focused on post-Tsunami recovery, a temporary peace shattered by the return to a conflict of suicide missions and guerilla warfare by Tamil Tiger rebels and war fighting by government forces. In the latest incident more than 50 Sinhalese are killed and many more reported injured in an explosion, purportedly a strike by the Tamil Tigers, and then in follow-up attacks by Sri Lankan government forces. NGO workers have also been killed and injured in indisciminate attacks and aid delivery is, in parts of the country, an extremely dangerous activity. We hear of attempts to coordinate NGO security by the NGO community there, this should be a good thing and surely should be supported - it looks like any coordination needs to be supported, strengthened and needs to reach beyond Columbo.
Our thoughts are with all victims of violence in this conflict.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Global Responses to Global Threats: Sustainable Security for the 21st Century

This research project, from the Oxford Research Group, brings a wider approach to contemporary threats which are often interconnected. Led, in large part, by the United Nations, there is growing international awareness that problems such as international terrorism or armed conflict cannot be dealt with in isolation from those of extreme poverty or environmental degradation. These are all global issues, which threaten human security as well as state security, and they recognise no national borders.

Worsening Security Situation In Afghanistan

Thanks to Kiruja the Global security manager at Christian Aid for this article
Worsening Security Situation in Afghanistan
Security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated alarmingly during the last two months. Also of serious concern is the increasing number of security incidents targeting Aid workers such as the attack on a NGO clinic in Badghis province in April when 5 innocent staff were killed, the RPG attack on a UNCEF vehicle in Mid May killing 2, and the ambush of Actionaid car at the end of last month killing four people. Until recently, Anti Government Elements (AGEs) mainly targeted military forces and the UN, and not so much the NGOs, but we are now noticing a trend whereby NGOs are deliberately targeted.

The table below suggests that the number of aid worker casualties during the last two months is close to 5 times the annual average for 2004 and 2005. (Estimated figures for 2004 were 18 people killed and in 2005 around 25)

Aid workers killed in Afghanistan during the last two months
10 Apr – 10 June 2006

Province Time Casualties

Badghis 10 April 5
Farah Mid May 1
Baghlan Mid May 1
Daikundi End May 4
Jowzjan End May 4
Badakhshan End May 2
Herat End May 2
Balkh June 2

Total 21

To put this into context, during the period 1997-2003; there was an annual average of 22 violent deaths involving aid workers worldwide. In Afghanistan, it was been the case that insurgents up their operations from spring when routes become accessible, but this year is so far the worst. Most of the NGO casualties have been national staff. A probable explanation for the rise of NGOs casualties is the heightened level of insurgency in the country and the fact that NGOs remain the softer target; UN agencies increased protection by ‘hardening targets' (erecting outer compound walls, requiring two vehicles for field missions, etc while NGOs are still heavily reliant on acceptance strategy - for the Afghanistan context, investing on image and acceptance alone is clearly not enough; one has to consider protective measures as well. According to a BBC report, around 900 people have been killed in the Afghan insurgency since the beginning of the year, with half of that total dying in May. (Mainly in the south of the country)

It is believed that killings will continue for some time

13 June 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Human Security Gateway

The Human Security Gateway is a rapidly expanding searchable online database of human security-related resources including reports, journal articles, news items and fact sheets. The Gateway is a joint initiative of the Human Security Centre (HSC) and the Canadian Consortium on Human Security (CCHS), both located at the University of British Columbia.
You will find there interesting and pertinent documentations which could be useful for background information or context assessments.

Rethinking Humanitarian Security - HPN

Even if the text is not recent, it is still very interesting to read this article where Pierre Gassmann invites us to think about the way NGOs and other Humanitarian actors have recently changed there security approaches due to the contexts' changes.
You will find as well other related documents and interesting researches on the HPN web site.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Principles and pragmatism - Civil-military action in Afghanistan and Liberia

This study looks into civil-military relations in conflict and post-conflict countries. In recent years, the issue has invoked a heated debate, which has occasionally lacked nuance and clarity. Some guidelines have emerged, but they are hardly sufficient for adequate positioning.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Somalia NGO Consortium - Security Advisors' Alert

Insecurity in Somalia has been headlining lately with UN staff being relocated because of militia violence. It is truly a unique mix of Clans and Sub-Clans, Shari'a and Warlords and Pirates and Khat, NGOs and "Technicals"!

The Security Advisor for the Somalia NGO Consortium has provided this alert information below (09/06/06 0930 GMT) and it is reproduced here with his kind permission.....Thanks Barry (and for those wondering if that is him on the left, it is not - take away the gun and you might be closer).

If you do have NGO security interest in that region you can contact Barry, who is very busy, by return comment to this post. We would also welcome your security information updates too.

For information on NGO security in Somalia, Somali territories, and the bordering areas we often here it from the Consortium's NGO security project before the press!

************************************************************************************* Reports indicate that fighting broke out in Baidoa, Bay region at approximately 1200 today. It is reported that conflict erupted between militia loyal to the President of the TFG (Majerten sub clan of Darod clan) and Geledle sub clan militia of the Saqaal, Rahanwein/Mirifle clan at a check point approximately 150m from the Presidential compound. The immediate cause of the conflict is reported to be the disarming of 4 Geledle militia by the Presidential militia at the checkpoint. It is reported that 15 to 20 people have died in the conflict thus far including Malaq Semow, the Geledle clan elder.

Assessment: The conflict could also be linked to the theft of 2 vehicles belonging to the Majerten clan by Leysaan sub clan militia of the Siyeed, Rahanwein/Mirifle clan on 08JUN05. Analysts fear that the conflict may drag the other Rahanwein sub clans, onto the side of the Geledle sub clan, into the conflict which would exacerbate the situation considerably. The killing of Malaq Semow is very serious and the conflict will probably get worse before it gets better. NGO's are advised to avoid the area and to follow the situation very carefully.

This email contains the latest update of available security related information in Somalia. Situations may have changed or will change from that of this report. Security decisions and protocols are the responsibility of respective agencies. Security precautions in accordance with organisation procedures are recommended at all times. This email is distributed for the information and sole benefit of the Somalia NGO Consortium in their provision of humanitarian and development aid to the people of Somalia and Somaliland.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Guest Bloggers: Nick Downie and Alex Carle

Please welcome two special guest bloggers for the next several weeks, Nick Downie and Alexandre Carle. Nick is very well known and respected for his security-related work within the NGO community, notably leading ANSO efforts in Afghanistan. Alex is a former French army officer with an extensive background in humanitarian security, including work in many international hotspots. Both Nick and Alex are extremely knowledgeable on all things security, and will be posting on topics that I'm sure you'll find interesting and useful. I appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedules to contribute to the NGO Security Blog while I'm traveling in places without Net access.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Incident: Evacuation, Somalia

The UN continues to evacuate staff from conflict areas in Somalia as Islamic militias continue their advance. Latest information here. Some analysts believe the United States has been funding rival warlords to prevent Somalia from turning into an Islamic state. Considering the current events it looks like those efforts have failed and it seems rather likely Somalia will become the next state-level target in the US's global war on terror.

Incident: Resumption, East Timor

CARE announced it was resuming operations after suspending activities on May 27 due to violence in East Timor.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Incident: Hassan Murder Sentencing, Iraq

Mustafa Salman received a life sentence from an Iraqi court for his involvement in the 2004 kidnapping and murder of CARE country director Margaret Hassan. Two other defendants in the case were freed. Salman was charged with aiding and abetting the kidnappers. At the present, no parties directly involved with Hassan's murder have been convicted or sentenced. Hopefully court testimony will eventually shed a light on the details of Hassan's abduction and why she was targeted.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Incident: Homicide, Afghanistan

A local staff member working for the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee NGO, was shot and killed in Baghlan province, northern Afghanistan. Condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Incident: Expulsion, Uzbekistan

A Uzbek court has ordered the closure of the local office of the U.S. NGO, American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study (ACCELS). In continuing crackdowns against international organizations, the Tashkent government accused ACCELS of violating the constitution and other laws. Several other foreign organizations are under scrutiny and may face expulsion.

Incident: Helicopter Crash (wreckage found), Afghanistan

The wreckage of an ICRC chartered helicopter that disappeared in January, 2006 while carrying out earthquake relief operations was located in a mountainous area of the Afghan province of Kapissa, north-east of Kabul. The Russian-built MI-8 was operated by Turkmenistan Airlines. Local villagers reported finding the bodies of the seven crew members with the wreckage. There is no information about what caused the crash. Condolences to family, friends and colleagues.