South African private military company Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) has refuted allegations levelled against it by a recent report by Amnesty International of racial bias during the evacuation of 240 people from Palma during the recent attack on the Mozambican town.
The report by Amnesty International on 13 May 2021 claimed that an estimated 220 civilians sought refuge in the Amarula Palma Hotel in Palma, during an attack that started on 24 March, of which around 200 were Black nationals, and about 20 were white contractors. The report said:
In the days that followed, South African private military company Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) rescued some from the hotel.
While the white contractors were prioritized to be airlifted to safety, the Black nationals were left to fend for themselves.
After the majority of the white contractors and a few well-off Black nationals – among them the Administrator for Palma – were rescued, those left behind attempted to flee by ground convoy but were ambushed by ‘Al-Shabaab’.
However, in a statement on Thursday, DAG refuted the claims saying did not choose who would or would not be evacuated. The statement read:
Dyck Advisory Group is aware of and has reviewed, the latest allegations made against us on 13 May 2021, by Amnesty International, this time in displaying racial discrimination whilst undertaking the rescue of 240 people from Palma during the recent attack on the town.
Whilst the report on the previous allegations made against us by Amnesty International is ongoing, the facts of our rescue efforts during our operations in Palma are as follows:
- We rescued 24 people from the Amarula Lodge on 25 March 2021 this consisted of 6 white persons and 18 black persons of differing nationalities.
- The DAG team did not choose who would or would not be evacuated, they secured the landing site and loaded the people that were sent to them for evacuation by the lodge manager, this was done six people at a time, at no time did our staff enter the lodge whilst undertaking the evacuations.
- DAG did not evacuate the Lodge Manager and his dogs; this was a private arrangement made with a commercial charter company.
- As well as the people that we evacuated from Amarula lodge we also managed to evacuate all the people trapped in Wentworth Compound, Banotti Compound, Palma Village and the WBHO site.
- As well as these main sites we also evacuated people from many other locations as they could be identified, or information was given to us of people trapped in the ongoing fighting.
- Most of the people that we rescued over the 10-day period that we undertook operations in Palma, were Mozambican nationals, in fact of the 240 people that we got to safety at the Afungi Peninsula only 12 were white, and two of those were bodies that we recovered so that they could be returned to their families.
We stand committed to our Human Rights obligations as encapsulated in our company policies and are incredibly proud of our team and the efforts that they made during this attack to support and save as many of the civilians stuck in the middle of the fighting, this was done at great personal risk to themselves, this is one of, if not the largest helicopter rescue operation of civilians during an ongoing battle in modern times.
Dyck Advisory Group (DAG)