It seems that Al-Ahabaab has an NGO liaison office. No... really! I’m not kidding. The official communication below announces the formation of the “Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies”. It also announces the closure of UNDP, UNDSS, and UNOPS offices in al-Shabaab controlled areas of Somalia.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen Department of Political Affairs and Regional Administrations
Date 27/07/1430H- 20/07/2009.
Press release on behalf of the Department of Political Affairs and Regional Administrations regarding the status of the various NGOs and foreign agencies operating in Somalia.
1. This is the official announcement of the establishment of The Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies. This office has been set up to coordinate all dealings with NGOs and foreign agencies and to fully monitor them.
It is mandatory upon all NGOs and foreign agencies operating in Somalia to immediately contact The Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies in their area. They must contact the Administration of the area that they are currently operating in and they will give out the address for the new office. The NGOs and foreign agencies will be informed of the conditions and restrictions on their work and on how their work may continue. Any NGO or foreign agency found to be working with an agenda against the Somali Muslim population and/or against the establishment of an Islamic State will be immediately closed and dealt with according to the evidence found.
2. As of (20/7/2009), a number of NGOs and foreign agencies currently operating in Somalia will be completely closed down and considered enemies of Islam and Muslims. The current list is as follows:
1. UNDP 2. UNDSS 3. UNOPS
This decision was finally concluded after thorough research and due to an ongoing investigation into the actions and motives of many of the NGOs and foreign agencies currently in operation. The above foreign agencies have been found to be working against the benefits of the Somali Muslim population and against the establishment of an Islamic State in Somalia. Some of the findings include evidence of training and support for the apostate goverment and the training of its troops. The research also found material support being given to the apostate militias in the border regions in hopes of destabilizing the regions and disrupting the safety and security that the Islamic administrations of those regions have accomplished by the permission of Allah. On top of that, it has not been hidden that over $250 million dollars have been gathered in Brussels on April 23, 2009 from various infidel countries and donors for the crusader Amisom troops to continue their mission of oppression and massacre of the Somali Muslim people.
Previously, CARE and IMC, two American agencies, were closed down as evidence was found of participation in activities against Islam. Proof was uncovered of spying for and aiding the intelligence agencies of the enemies of Islam. In addition, as it is well known, those agencies assisted in the assassination of Sheikh Maalim Adam ‘Aayro.
Allah is our Protector and our Sustainer. Department of Political Affairs and Regional Administrations
Armadillo at Large is running a three day personal safety and security course from 27 July to 31 July at Farnham, UK. The course will be followed by two days of either field first aid or communications training.
The course syllabus:
The Security Management Framework Risk, Threat, and Vulnerability Situational Awareness Standard Operating Procedures and Contingency Planning Incident Reporting Explosive Remnants of War Training Hostage Survival Strategies Guns and Bombs and things that go Bang Personal Preparation Safety Management Travel Risks Practical Simulations
If you are an aid worker heading off to a conflict zone, or you would like to be, I strongly recommend this course. The Armadillo at Large team has top notch instructors who have extensive first hand field experience garnered from some of the world’s most dangerous hot spots.
Five Sudanese charged with murdering U.S. aid worker - In an area where impunity is the order of the day it looks like just might actually be done in the case of the murder of John Granville. Minor point - I think this should read “USAID worker” versus “U.S. aid worker”.
KarKorder - NGO drivers face significant risk, both from traffic accidents and violent incidents. This vehicle mounted combination video recorder and GPS data logger might be useful for mitigating some of the risk.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Sudanese rebel group, is reporting to local media that Government of Sudan (GOS) aircraft bombed an area near El Fasher on 26 January.
According to this US Embassy in Khartoum warden message the GOS has cancelled all flights to El Fasher airport:
U.S. Embassy KhartoumJanuary 26, 2008This Warden Message alerts U.S. citizens to fighting outside of El Fasher and other areas of Darfur between government and rebel forces. The Government of Sudan has cancelled all flights to/from El Fasher airport for January 26. The US Embassy urges all U.S. citizens in the Darfur region to take maximum security precautions, monitor news reports, and remain in a safe location until the situation stabilizes. U.S. citizens traveling in Sudan despite the current Travel Warning should register their presence in Sudan with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the Department of State's website (http://travel.state.gov/) and obtain updated information regarding travel and security within Sudan. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Sharia Ali Abdul Latif, Khartoum; tel. (249-183)774-700/1/2/3 (outside Sudan); tel (0183) 774-700/1/2/3 (inside Sudan). Americans may contact Embassy by phone or email KhartoumConsular@state.gov. For emergencies, please call the Embassy and ask to be connected to the duty officer.
‘Solar Powered Medical Clinic Will Save Lives in War Torn Iraq’ - Aid Worker Daily wonders why NGOs are not quicker to be involved in alternative energy in the field. It is something I’ve always wondered as well. Alternative energy even has security advantages for NGOs. There is no need to expose drivers to increased risk bringing large amounts of fuel into crisis zones. Generators make it difficult to hear what is going on around your compound and even reduce your acceptance. Who wants to live next to a noisy generator? Especially if you don’t have an opportunity to use it yourself.
As with many things in life it seems that the death of Jiri Zivny may not have been what it first seemed. A report in the AsiaSentinal suggests that Jiri may have died in a motorcycle accident rather than a robbery. You can read more in this disillusioning report: Cashing in by Doing Good in Cambodia
At this point it is very difficult to know exactly what is going on but it reinforces my previous advice - “Ensure you have proper medical evacuation insurance before you go abroad. The organization you work for should be able to provide this for you. If not, you will need to pay for your own... and you should probably consider choosing another organization.”
Whatever the outcome of this incident may be my thoughts are for Ziri, a man who seems to have been struggling to turn his life around for the better.
I’ve been upgrading the comment system (with JS-Kit) and have run in to a few problems. Comment input and moderation work well so I am getting your comments. Unfortunately inline comments (and comment counts) do not show up in the blog proper nor do comment counts. Please bear with me while I get this sorted out.
Bani Thabyan tribesmen kidnapped a German aid worker and her parents in southern Yemen on Monday. The aid worker and her visiting mother and father were seized by the tribesmen in Dhamar province, 105 kilometres south of the capital, San'a according to security officials. The kidnappers are demanding the release of imprisoned fellow tribesman.
German and Yemeni officials have yet to release the identity of the captives.
Kidnappings of this type are fairly common in Yemen. In the majority of cases, the hostages are freed unharmed after negotiations.
Gunmen shot and wounded an aid worker in a northern Kenya during an ambush on an ambulance. The attackers fired on the ambulance while it was transporting twelve members of the German non-governmental organization GTZ from one camp to another.
Approximately 250,000 Somali refugees live in three refugee camps in the Daadab area near Somalia.
Unfortunately this good news is tempered by the apparent abduction of Jestina Mukoko, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project. Jestina was forced from her home in Harare by armed men in civilian clothing at 5 AM on 3 November. The Zimbabwe Peace Project local intelligence and police authorities are involved in the abduction.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project works to document violence and torture across Zimbabwe through a network of Peace Monitors.
Today is the day that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Going through my email and news feeds I’ve been thinking of things to be thankful for.
First and foremost for me is that Bev did not make it as far as Mumbai on her break from the dangers of Afghanistan. Fortunately for her the attacks began before she could leave Delhi.
Afghanistan hasn’t been quiet either of course. A suicide bombing near the American embassy in Kabul disrupted Thanksgiving Day activities, killing at least four people.
Aid Worker Daily points to another reason to be thankful. I could have been born in eastern Congo rather than western Canada. Condition: Critical highlights the struggles of those living in war torn Congo.
Most of all this morning I am thankful that I am not Dany Egreteau the French aid worker kidnapped in Kabul on 3 November. Warning: The video contains graphic and disturbing images.
Have courage brother. Rest assured that there are many working for your safe return.
The details are still sketchy but it appears that a French aid worker has been kidnapped in Kabul this morning. According to various sources he was taken while walking in Karta Parwan, a suburb of Kabul. An Afghan, possibly with the National Directorate of Security, was shot when he tried to intervene.
Aid workers from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have been temporarily pulled out of Chad after an unstated but specific security threat. IFRC staff have been supporting the Chadian Red Cross.
Raj Rana is back online with his new company’s website. The WolfGroup is a consulting group with expertise in civil-military relations, post-conflict peace building, critical incident management, NGO security, risk management, protection and advocacy. Recommended!
Raj Rana is back online with his new company’s website. The WolfGroup is a consulting group with expertise in civil-military relations, post-conflict peace building, critical incident management, NGO security, risk management, protection and advocacy. Recommended!
If you read this blog you’ve probably already seen the article above. I almost didn’t read it because it looked like yet another “aid is inefficient and ineffective article”. It was the reference to NGO security costs that caught my eye.According to Integrity Watch Afghanistan, “Between 15 to 30 percent of aid money is spent on security for aid agencies, the IWA report said...”
What? Really? Where did those numbers come from? Given the difficulty I’ve had in finding money for things as simple as burglar resistant doors and decent fencing I really have my doubts.
For instance, the contracted security of the Kabul-Kandahar road during its reconstruction* prevented the disarmament of the equivalent of a whole private militia. Serious estimates put the number of armed guards who were used by the aid agencies at tens of thousands. An estimated 15 to 30 percent of aid money has been spent on security.
Maybe that’s where things got confused. To be clear the meaning of the statement “15 to 30 percent of aid money has been spent on security” is nowhere near the same as, “Between 15 to 30 percent of aid money is spent on security for aid agencies...” While considerable donor money might go to ‘security’ in Afghanistan it includes things like security sector reform, demining, counter-narcotics, police training, etc. This is not the same thing as “security for aid agencies.”
I’m pretty confident that aid agencies are not spending 15 to 30 percent of their budgets on their own security. I know mine isn’t. Most NGOs do not use armed guards and security budgets are generally small even if you include what are traditional safety costs.
* To the best of my knowledge the vast majority of the work done on the Kabul-Kandahar road was done by private contractors, not aid workers.
Not satisfied with merely stopping CARE’s work in Zimbabwe the government has ordered all aid groups to cease work. This might be a good time for NGOs in Zimbabwe to dust of hibernation/relocation plans, exercise the Crisis Management Team, and review security measures.
A Norwegian newspaper recently published a drawing of a man with Turban, having his clothes open and displaying a t-shirt with the text: "I am Mohammed, no one dares to print me”. The artist says that the half naked caricature represents the naked face of terrorism. However, it is fairly obvious that others may interpret the cartoon differently.
The drawing seems to be circulating quickly on Arabic websites.
NGOs would be wise to monitor the situation closely. Any indicator of negative reactions to the new cartoon should be taken seriously and any necessary risk reduction and mitigation measures implemented.
Three aid workers from Cooperazione Italiana Nord Sud were kidnapped by gunmen on 21 May in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Two Italians, one male and one female, and a male Somali colleague were kidnapped early in the morning in the village of Awdhegle.
A section of the Chinese Red Cross website has reportedly been hacked. Apparently the hacker gained access to the website and created four fraudulent bank accounts to steal earthquake relief funding. If you can read Chinese you can read the report here. Otherwise check out the link attached to the graphic below. Read the full report from The Dark Visitor.
A Jordanian vessel carrying 4,000 tonnes of sugar donated by Denmark was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia on 17 May.
The Indian Ocean near Somalia has one of the highest piracy rates in the world. At least twelve ships have been attacked this year. Vessels carrying aid shipments are easy and lucrative targets for the pirates who ply the Somalia coastline.
According to sources the Government of Sudan is creating a 'no fly zone' for UN and humanitarian operations in Darfur. There are contradictory reports of airport closures and the grounding of flights. Nyala and El Fasher airstrips were closed on 13 May.
NGO security advisors are advised to reassess their medical evacuation plans for Darfur. The lack of reliable aeromedical evacuation capability increases the threat to life and limb of even relatively minor medical events.
On Wednesday, 7 May 2008, gunmen shot dead 37-year-old Zimbabwean Silence Chirara outside a UN compound in Lokichoggio, north of Nairobi, near the border with southern Sudan. He was ambushed while driving a clearly marked UN vehicle.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence is monitoring the election in eastern Sri Lanka. They are using the emerging standard, Twitter updates mashed with google maps, a blog, and mobile phone access to spread the word. Even if you are not interested in the elections you should check it out in case you need to do something similar in your own country.
CMEV is comprised of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) the Free Media Movement (FMM) and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre. Despite financial constraints they plan to field 330 stationary monitors at selected polling centres across the Eastern Province along with 49 Mobile Teams.
This article about a UNDP worker being arrested while carrying a pistol is interesting but its the comments that stand out. Some are funny... some just sad. What does it say about acceptance as a security strategy in Sri Lanka? Have we been doing a good job communicating what it is we do and who we are?
The Insurgency Research Group has an excellent analysis of the significance of the Taliban attack on Sunday's Afghan National Day parade. The whole post is worth reading but don't do it yet. Read the following paragraph first and then watch the No Comment TV video.
The incident on Sunday demonstrates a classic propaganda of the deed partnership in which the insurgents with growing skill select a media-significant target and with witless incomprehension international reporters beam the most sensationally damning images of the event around the world so as to deliver the worst possible interpretation. There is no need for a Taliban subtext or even a photo caption, the images speak powerfully for themselves sending messages of a stricken regime put to flight in their gilded uniforms by the daring fighters of the Taliban.
BBC Radio's iPM until Chris Vallance contacted me to talk about using Twitter in Afghanistan. He has put together a a great piece titled "Twittering Around the World". Its definitely worth listening to. There are a lot of fascinating people doing interesting things with Twitter.
ACF has made the difficult decision to withdraw from Sri Lanka due to lack of confidence in the government's investigation into the massacre of 17 ACF staff two years ago. This couldn't have been an easy decision for ACF. Concerns over the impact of their withdrawal on beneficiaries must weigh heavily. However, ACF's action may well help raise the profile of attacks on NGOs in Sri Lanka and help end the culture of impunity that grips the island.
I applaud ACF for making morally courageous choices under difficult circumstances.
You might recall that a couple of weeks ago NGO Security and humanitarian.info covered cyber attacks on NGO's in Tibet. Now Wired magazine has a more mainstream follow up article on the issue. Most alarming perhaps is that some of the malware used in the attacks was designed to steal PGP encryption keys. PGP is used by many human rights groups to secure their email from prying eyes.
NGO Security is compiling a humanitarian security training directory. If you or your organization want to be included in the directory drop them a line. If you know someone who might want to be included please pass the word.
Posts on Patronus Analytical have been a little sparse lately as we've been busy relocating from Sri Lanka to Afghanistan. It wasn't exactly an easy move but hopefully things should be a little more settled now and I should be able to resume regular (or at least semi-regular posts).
Aid workers Cyd Mizell and Muhammad Hadi have apparently been killed in Afghanistan according to this statement by Asian Rural Life Development Foundation. The pair had been kidnapped by armed men in Kandahar while they travelled to work in the morning.
Cyd Mizell's father asks for his daughters safe return in this video statement.
If your connection is too slow for the video you can read the text of the statement below.
SEATTLE, Feb. 3 /CNW/ -- The family of Cyd Mizell, an American aid worker currently being held in Afghanistan, today released the following statementfrom her father, George Mizell: "I am Cydney's father. My family and I want to thank all those who have shown their deep concern for the safety and well being of my daughter, Cydney Mizell, and Muhammad Hadi. I am indebted to the Afghan people for their support of Cydney and Muhammad. "My family and I love Cyd very much. I'm confused why my daughter would be taken because she's a gentle, caring and respectful person. "When we talk to Cyd, she tells us about the friends she's made and the kindness that's been shown to her and her desire to help them. "To those people who are holding our daughter, please let Cyd come home. Each day that passes without knowing about Cyd is difficult for our family andfriends. "We ask that you work with us so Cyd can come home. Cyd knows how to contact us and her co-workers. All of us are waiting to hear from you."
For further information: Bill Curry, spokesman for the Mizell family, +1-206-697-3684 Web Site: http://www.onlinefilefolder.com
Wilders says his short will show that the Qur'an is "a source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror." Little else is known about the contents of the yet to be viewed video leading some to speculate that it may contain deliberately provocative acts.
NGO’s working in Islamic countries or in countries with significant Muslim communities should review their exposure to the risk of a violent backlash. Organizations that might be labelled as “Western”, “Christian”, “Dutch” or “Israeli” are especially vulnerable. Security plans should include responses for civil disobedience, demonstrations, and riots. With luck cooler heads will prevail and the plans won’t be needed but, as always, it is better to be prepared.
According to Sunbelt, a security software company, there is a new email scam going around where small non-profit organizations are being targeted by a “Barbara Moratek” of the “Ivete Foundation“. Not only does the email seem to be a scam but Googling either name can take you to sites with fake codec Trojans and other potentially damaging sites. NGOs, especially smaller ones eager for donors, should also be aware of this potential threat.
Ushahidi.com is a brilliant website that gives Kenyans a simple way to report and follow post-election violence. The site offers a simple map-based way to see where violence is taking place, and collects eyewitness accounts and photographs. Its even possible to report incidents via SMS.
If you want even more White African has a comprehensive list of blogs covering the post-election violence.
Sooriyakanthi Thavarajah, a volunteer of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, was found dead after being abducted by unidentified gunmen last Friday. According to a Red Cross Red Crescent Movement statement:
"Mr Thavarajah had been an active member of the Red Cross for many years and served as chairman of the Point Pedro Division for the past three years. In 2005, he received an award for ‘Best Volunteer’ from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society in recognition of his contribution during the tsunami tragedy."
This is the second killing of Red Cross workers in Sri Lanka this year. On 1 June two SLRCS volunteers were abducted and killed in Colombo by persons claiming to be police officers.
Sri Lanka is among the world’s most dangerous places for aid workers according to the United Nations Staff Union. According to these articles the union is expected to advise staffers not to take postings to Sri Lanka due to the security risks that aid workers face. Although the union places much of the blame on the government of Sri Lanka it also notes with concern “the lukewarm response by UN officials in supporting their own staff”.
Maia over at the people search site spock has kindly added the details of the 17 ACF workers who were killed in the Muttur massacre to the spock database. You can view the results on this page or you can search for "murdered aid worker" at the spock site.
The NGO Security blog has been running a series of "What would you do if....?" scenarios based on videos from YouTube and other online sources. They are well worth checking out. The video makes the exercise a little more visceral. You don't need to be a security officer to participate. In fact I would guess that non security officers would benefit the most.
Watch the videos and imagine what you would do. Imagine yourself actually being there. Do it with as much detail as your imagination will allow. How would you respond? How would you feel? You don’t need to worry about getting the “right” answer. You don’t even need to leave an answer for the exercise to be beneficial. Visualization is a powerful tool. It will help you cope mentally with future crises.
Once you’ve done these yourself try them with your peers or your family. You’ll be surprised how your responses can differ radically from those of others. In Scenario 5 it wouldn’t do you any good to know that backing up quickly is a good idea if your driver thinks the best option is to jump out of the vehicle and hide in the ditch.
Silobreaker has updated their site. It is now easier to make sense of what you are seeing. The graphs and link diagrams are especially useful.
I met the Rev Fr Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith of the Jesuit Refugee Services while I was in Mannar district a few weeks ago. He struck me as a quiet, principled man, who was dedicated to his beliefs and service to others. Despite the difficult security situation in the area he continued to work hard to bring relief to the poorest and most vulnerable. In short he was the type of man I endeavour to be.
On the afternoon of 26 September 2007 while travelling towards Vellankulam in an LTTE controlled area of Mannar his vehicle was struck by a command detonated Claymore. Fr. Packiyaranjith was killed instantly. His driver was severely injured.
No one has accepted responsibility for this brutal and myopic act. Nor is anyone likely to. The government blames the LTTE. The LTTE blame the government.
Over the weekend the sheer senselessness of his death left me feeling frustrated and depressed. This morning however, I had a revelation. Fr. Packiyaranjith was the type who, if he had been given the choice, would have chosen to spend his last moments in his quest to help others.
Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous places on earth for humanitarian workers, the UN’s aid chief says, calling on the government to probe civil war abuses and consider an international rights monitoring mission. Aid agencies say 34 humanitarian staff have been killed in Sri Lanka since January 2006, including 17 local staff of Action Contre La Faim shot dead in the restive northeast a year ago in a massacre Nordic truce monitors blamed on security forces. “There is a concern ... about the safety of humanitarian workers themselves and the record here is one of the worst in the world from that point of view,” John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday during a visit to Sri Lanka.
This is not news to most of us who work here but it is a reminder just how bad the situation has become. Sri Lanka can be a very deceptive place. It is important that we not let the sunshine, beauty, and beaches blind us to the risk that NGO staff, especially national staff, face in what is in essence a civil war. I worry that we have begun to accept these deaths as the price of doing business here.
Groundviews, a Sri Lankan citizen journalism initiative, is a good place to find alternative views on the conflict in Sri Lanka. Recently they posted a quick piece titled Sri Lanka's Dirty War. It includes links to an HRW report and a 13 minute video produced by Journeyman Pictures on abductions and human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Check them out, both for the story and for an idea of what citizen journalism in a conflict zone can be.
Online research can be a great tool but as anyone who has used Google can attest there is a lot of information out there and most search tools just dump out an endless list of links. Sorting through it, discarding the irrelevant, and putting the remainder into some usable form is a task left to the user. Any tool that allows the already busy Security Officer to spend less time searching for information and more time assessing and analysing it is of value. Silobreaker is one of these tools. In the words of Silobreaker, "Silobreaker looks at the data it finds like a person does. It recognises things - companies, people, topics, places - and puts them in context".
While I was testing the public Beta I quickly discovered its utility. A basic search for the term 'suicide bomber' brought up the type of content you might expect but with some preliminary organization. There was a top stories pane, a search result timeline frame, an entity list, a "Quotes" pane, a more traditional search results list and a network visualization diagram. The sidebar also has a list of entities related to your search; cities, people, companies etc.
Since I'm currently in Sri Lanka I "drilled down", as Silobreaker calls it, to Sri Lanka. The result were now much more relevant and lo and behold there were items of interest and relationship that hadn't captured my attention before.
As one would expect with a Beta there is still some work to be done. Even on my relatively fast connection the site seemed slow at times. One very useful feature that counters the sluggishness is the liberal use of hover overs allowing a quick preview of content before you commit to clicking on a link or entity.
Silobreaker is currently allowing free public access to its online Beta. I recommend you give it a try and see if it meets your needs.