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Question: Two sets of questions: mercenaries and nepotism. On mercenaries, can you confirm that the UN in Iraq is signing an agreement with a private military contractor called Aegis that’s been accused of killing civilians, and also, that Mr. [Gregory B.] Starr, the new head of the DSS [Department of Safety and Security], was the official responsible for extending the contract with Blackwater while he was with the United States State Department?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have nothing on either one of those, so we’d have to look into that for you.
Question: But, I mean, does the UN in Iraq use private military contractors –- that’s my…?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have to look into that for you.
The Department of Safety and Security is responsible for providing leadership, operational support and oversight of the security management system to enable the safest and most efficient conduct of the programmes and activities of the United Nations System.
AEGIS is a fast-growing company that provides strategic support to governments and the commercial sector in the specialist niche of security and intelligence related services with particular emphasis upon designing and implementing solutions related to international terrorism, security force capability and complex geopolitical issues.
On 6 May 2009, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Gregory B. Starr of the United States of America as Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, succeeding David Veness.
The State Department said yesterday that it would renew its contract with Blackwater Worldwide, the controversial private security contractor, to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Baghdad for another year, but said it could cancel it at any time.
Blackwater has a five-year contract with the State Department to provide diplomatic security. The contract, which has one base year plus four option years, is entering its fourth year, an official at the State Department said.
The company, based in Moyock, N.C., is under investigation by the FBI in connection with a Sept. 16 incident in which its security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. Questions have been raised about whether the shootings were justified and if they violated the rules under which contractors may use deadly force in Iraq.
Gregory B. Starr, the acting assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, said the pending investigation could change the deal with Blackwater.
Private security firms operating in Iraq are committing human rights abuses, a charity has claimed.
A report by War on Want says no prosecutions have been brought despite hundreds of complaints of abuse.
And the charity is calling on the government to introduce legislation to ban private security in war zones.
Lt Col Tim Spicer, whose Aegis security firm operates in Iraq, said they worked under "very strict rules" and could be prosecuted if they did anything wrong.