A brand new documentary has claimed that a British security firm employed ‘former child soldiers’ to fight in Iraq because they were cheaper to pay than Europeans.
The documentary entitled, The Child Soldier’s New Job, which will be broadcast on Monday in Denmark, alleges that an estimated 2,500 Sierra Leonean soldiers who were recruited by Aegis and other private security companies to work in Iraq for pennies included former child soldiers, according to The Guardian.
Such claims have been backed up by a former senior director at the company, James Ellery, who used to work for Aegis Defence Services – a company chaired by Sir Nicholas Soames, a Tory MP, and Winston Churchill’s grandson.
Speaking to The Guardian, Ellery absurdly said that his firm had a ‘duty’ to employ from countries such as Sierra Leone because there is such mass ‘unemployment and a decent workforce’.
You probably would have a better force if you recruited entirely from the Midlands of England. But it can’t be afforded. So you go from the Midlands of England to Nepalese etc etc, Asians, and then at some point you say I’m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.
Contract documents show that the exploited soldiers from Sierra Leone were paid $16 (£11) a day. Minimum wage in the UK for a standard 8-hour day ranges from £30-£58 – never mind if your workplace was a war-zone.
The film’s maker, Mads Ellesøe, said:
When war gets outsourced, then the companies tries to find the cheapest soldiers globally. Turns out that that is former child soldiers from Sierra Leone. I think it is important that we in the west are aware of the consequences of the privatisation of war.
Sierra Leone remains one of the world’s poorest countries, still crippled by its civil war which ended in 2002.
The documentary shows how since 2009 private military firms have gone to the country, along with Uganda and Kenya, for cheap soldiers to guard military installations in Iraq.
We contacted Sir Nicholas Soames for comment. He has not replied.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.