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Oakervee: Engineers in Iraq need better protection

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ICE PRESIDENT Douglas Oakervee this week called on coalition governments to improve the safety of engineers in Iraq, after British civil engineer Ken Bigley was taken hostage.

'Ken Bigley and other civil engineers are putting their lives on the line to help the people of Iraq build a better future for themselves and their families.

'The effect these events could have on ensuring the availability of desperately needed, skilled workers to aid the reconstruction of essential infrastructure, could potentially be disastrous.

'A large number of engineers are working to provide basic amenities, such as running water and electricity, and it may be time for the coalition governments to consider how they can work to improve their safety, ' said Oakervee.

'Our thoughts and prayers are with the hostages and their families.'

As NCE went to press, the group holding Bigley had already killed one of the two American hostages being held with him and issued threats to kill another within 24 hours.

The three men had been working for regional construction supply and logistics firm Gulf Supplies & Commercial Services (GSCS) based in Abu Dhabi.

Several British firms have a presence in Iraq including Costain and Amec.

Both said that the kidnapping did not alter their policy on working in the country and that the security arrangements they had made did not need to be changed.

KBR currently has more than 30,000 employees and subcontracted personnel supporting its efforts in the Middle East region.

'Civilian contractors work side by side with the military and Iraqi people. Our work is difficult and in a dangerous environment, ' said a spokesman The spokesman highlighted that Halliburton and its subcontractors have already lost 46 personnel while performing services under its contracts in the Kuwait-Iraq region.

'While our employees choosing to serve in Iraq recognise the dangers inherent in working in a war zone, they are driven by their desire to help rebuild the country and contribute to the creation of a democracy, despite the risks, ' he added.

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