Thursday, November 26, 2009

'UN Mission in Congo Judged a Failure'

Two similar articles that are joining a pile-on against the UN Mission in DRC:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

'Discover UNIFIL' - Episode 1

UNIFIL has released the first episode in a tv series that introduces the mission. Very effective InfoOps material, they actually make an introduction to the UNIFIL HQ interesting...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Donor caution aid workers

A flip side to Afghanistan- 'Aid agencies operating in Somalia say they need more money but that some donors are holding back, concerned at where resources might end up in areas too dangerous for international staff.'

Reviews Raise Doubt on Training of Afghan Forces

'A series of internal government reviews have presented the Obama administration with a dire portrait of Afghanistan’s military and police force, bringing into serious question an ambitious goal at the heart of the evolving American war strategy — to speed up their training and send many more Afghans to the fight.'

UN calling in the big guns to protect AF staff- Gurkas

The punchline is that the UN will bring in foreign security staff, preferably Gurkas, to protect staff and installations.

There are some good snapshots of how staff perceive this- those who increased security measures as impinging on their social lives; those who see the costs as unjustified; those that actually start to question the impact of such robust security on their ability to operate in the context:

'But life is about to get worse. One foreign worker said: "One of the beauties of Afghanistan is we have such an interesting operating environment and some sense of normalcy where we can live with friends and go out in the evening."

... New rules will force UN staff to find accommodation in buildings with room for defensive positions for armed guards, probably foreign guards, preferably Gurkhas, who cost vastly more than Afghan guards. Some UN staff say they have been told a team of Gurkhas would cost £150,000 a year to protect one building.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, said such a cost could not be justified: "We have to look at ways to keep our security costs down by pooling people into larger buildings. If most of your money goes to your security then there is something wrong with your presence here."

'The Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Role model for civil-military relations?'

A new reflection on PRTs:

'EXCERPT: "Since 2003, 26 so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), currently under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), have been established in Afghanistan. Their objective is to extend the authority of the Afghan central government, enhance security in the provinces, and facilitate humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts (NATO, 2003). PRTs are relatively small integrated civil-military units designed as a stabilizing force in Afghanistan’s provinces and were first introduced in 2002 by the US army in the context of the 'global war on terror' as Operation Enduring Freedom. The PRTs model is part of the NATO strategy of civil-military cooperation (CIMIC)."'

'U.S. Needs Hit Squads, ?Manhunting Agency?: Spec Ops Report'

'CIA director Leon Panetta got into hot water with Congress, after he revealed an agency program to hunt down and kill terrorists. A recent report from the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations University argues that the CIA didn’t go far enough (.pdf). Instead, it suggests the American government should set up something like a “National Manhunting Agency” to go after jihadists, drug dealers, pirates and other enemies of the state.'

Norwegian Frigate escorts ships including WFP

'A boarding unit from the Norwegian frigate "Fridtjof Nansen" came under fire from pirates, while on an inspection mission close to shore in the Bay of Aden on Saturday. There were no injuries. ...The vessel also carries out escort missions for the World Food Program (WFP), to ensure safe passage for emergency supplies to the victims of the food shortage in Somalia.'

'UN: Congolese Army Killed 62 Civilians in E. Congo'

Following the recent articles criticising UN support and mentoring of the Congolese Armed Forces ('...for every rebel who has been disarmed this year, one civilian has been killed, seven women or girls raped, and 900,000 people made homeless...'

- the UN finally starts to distance itself:

Afghan Police Officer Kills Five British Soldiers

A number of hard-hitting articles following the killing of five British Soldiers by a 'rogue' Afghan Police officer:

- 'British army responds to killing of five soldiers in Afghanistan' -

- 'Meet Afghanistan's model police force: inexperience, drugs and double agents' -

- 'Soldiers' forum reveals anger and disbelief over latest Afghan deaths' -

UN peacekeepers involved in abuse are being punished, world body says

'Dozens of United Nations peacekeepers implicated in cases of sexual abuse and exploitation have been disciplined and punished, a spokesperson for the world body said today.'