Friday, November 06, 2009

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."