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NGOs protest EU link with mine producer

NGOs protest EU link with mine producer

A N English recruitment consultancy contracted to provide specialists for a

European Union aid project in Cambodia has a sister company which produces

landmines.

The connection has appalled Cambodian NGOs, which are asking

the EU to sever its ties with the consultancy.

Hunting Technical Services

(HTS) - which specializes in agricultural consultancy services to developing

countries - is providing a team of consultants for an EU food-for-work program

in Cambodia.

HTS is owned by Hunting PLC, which has another subsidiary

company, Hunting Engineering, which makes and sells munitions including land

mines.

"This is unacceptable for a big donor in Cambodia which is funding

humanitarian and development work to be utilizing the services of a company

which is...associated with producing mines," NGO Forum spokeswoman Joan Anderson

said this week.

The NGO Forum, along with the Mines Advisory Group and

the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines, are urging the EU to sever its ties with

HTS for as long as Hunting Engineering produces or sells landmines.

They

said HTS was to provide about 10 consultants to work on the EU food program, due

to begin soon, in conjunction with the World Food Program.

Mines Advisory

Group regional director Chris Horwood said Hunting Engineering was one of the

world's foremost designers and manufacturers of munitions.

Its products

included the HB876 mine, described in Hunting Engineering promotional leaflets

as an "Area-Denial Munition", produced for the British Royal Air

Force.

Horwood produced a Janes' International Defense Directory which

listed Hunting Engineering as a producer of air-launched, naval and ground-based

mines.

He said Hunting Engineering no longer produced the HB876 mine,

though a new model of them was reportedly planned, but had a stockpile available

for export.

"These mines can turn up anywhere" in the world, he said,

given the trade of landmines to warring, developing countries through circuitous

routes. He acknowledged they were unlikely to find their way to

Cambodia.

But NGOs had a persuasive "moral argument" that humanitarian

agencies should not be involved with companies associated with mine

production.

He urged the EU, and other aid donors or agencies, to follow

the lead of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which recently

decided it would not knowingly purchase goods or services from any firm which

produces mines or their components.

A statement issued by the Bangkok

office of European Commission Ambassador Gwyn Morgan said: "The EC Delegation to

Cambodia is fully sensitive to the strong feelings expressed by the NGO Forum

and has therefore conveyed these sentiments to the highest authorities in the

commission in Brussels."

The statement said the European Commission had

spent nearly $30 million on demining around the world, including $5 million in

Cambodia, in the past three years.

It also said the commission supported

a moratorium on exports of "anti-personnel mines".

The statement made no

mention of HTS' future in the EU food aid program in Cambodia.

As the

Post went to press, HTS's director, David Potten, was en route to Cambodia to

oversee the start of the program.

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