Security ban may affect Afghan aid

2010-08-18 18:45

Kabul - A ban on private security companies in Afghanistan could affect development and aid work as many of the firms guard Western projects in the country, US officials said on Wednesday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree on Tuesday ordering private security companies to disband within four months - part of an ambitious plan for the government to take responsibility for all security in the country from 2014.

The firms, who compete for billions of dollars in contracts, employ around 40 000 heavily armed guards - mostly Afghans but including many foreigners. They are also used to guard convoys, embassies and other mainly Western interests.

Karzai has long been critical of the firms, saying they had caused horrific accidents, but the speed with which the decree was issued took some by surprise and US officials in Afghanistan said they were still studying it.

'Very challenging'

"We are concerned that any quick action to remove private security companies may have unintended consequences, including the possible delay of US reconstruction and development assistance efforts," embassy spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

"Private security companies are currently filling a gap to allow us to deliver reconstruction and development assistance that, at the end of the day, focuses on improving the lives of the Afghan people," she said.

The Pentagon on Tuesday described the deadline as "very challenging", but the move was welcomed by ordinary Afghans, for whom such firms have long been an irritant.

The heavily armed guards are a common sight on Afghan streets, forcing their way through traffic in convoys of four-wheel drive vehicles.

"They think they own the roads," said Edrees, a Kabul university student, who said ordinary Afghans were harassed by their macho behaviour and driving.

Munir Mangal, Afghanistan's deputy interior minister, said Afghan officials would work with their international counterparts to ensure the smooth implementation of the decree.

"We are trying to implement a plan and I think we are working on a plan which would be practical," Mangal told reporters.

"We are not saying there will be no difficulties, but we should overcome those difficulties," he said.

Notorious

The Afghan government tried unsuccessfully last year to formalise the market and log their weapons. Western officials said there were 52 registered private security companies, employing about 26 000 personnel, and many more unregistered.

The image of private security guards was deeply stained after a series of deadly incidents in Iraq, where it was not uncommon to see Western guards throw water bottles at pedestrians and cars to keep them away from the convoys they were guarding.

In the most notorious incident, security guards from US firm Blackwater were involved in a shooting in 2007 in which 14 civilians were killed.

Blackwater has since changed its name to Xe and has several contracts in Afghanistan. In January, two US security working for Paravant LLC, a unit of Xe, were arrested in Afghanistan on charges of murdering two Afghans in Kabul and wounding a third.

The US State Department said last year it would review its use of contractors at overseas embassies after a scandal over sexual hazing by security guards at its Kabul mission.

Private security companies are subject to Afghan law but many Afghans still see them as operating with impunity.

Read more on:    hamid karzai  |  afghanistan  |  aid
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come back into focus. You may get a second chance to say what needs to be said. The important focus today is to not...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.