Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Planes used for arms are often also used for aid

The same planes that smuggle weapons are often hired to transport humanitarian aid, according to a new report released today.

The authors of the report suggest enforcing the EU's air safety rules to combat the problem. They say this will help because the planes often carrying the weapons have poor safety standards.

From AFP via Google, we read more of what was contained in the report.

Air cargo carriers used to smuggle weapons to war-torn parts of Africa have also been hired to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, a leading peace think tank said Tuesday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report that 90 percent of air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports had been used by UN agencies, European Union and NATO members as well as leading non-governmental organisations to deliver aid.

"For example, UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan have continued to use aircraft operated by (Sudan's) Badr Airlines even after the UN Security Council recommended an aviation ban be imposed on the carrier in response to arms embargo violations," the SIPRI report said.

The report also singled out other African carriers such as Astral Aviation, African International Airlines and the Sudanese-registered Trans Attico as being named in arms trafficking reports.

It also said several US private security firms hired air cargo carriers and aircraft which have been "involved in the trafficking of arms to militias which the US government have designated 'global terrorists'."

The report cited Dyncorp, a company that provides security services for the US government, as having contracted Aerolift, a firm accused by the UN Security Council in 2006 of being involved in arms trading, to supply weapons to an Islamist militia that controls much of southern Somalia.

The militant group, Al-Shabab, was added by the US government to its list of terrorist organisations in March 2008 over alleged links to Al-Qaeda.

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