Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sierra Leone 'helped deploy ex-child soldiers to Iraq', academic says | Reuters

Sierra Leone 'helped deploy ex-child soldiers to Iraq', academic says | Reuters: "LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sierra Leone's government helped British private security service firms recruit former child soldiers to work as guards in Iraq from 2009, said a Danish academic who has spent years investigating the issue.

Thousands of children were forced to fight in Sierra Leone's 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002. More than 50,000 people were killed in the fighting and many tens of thousands more mutilated or raped by rebels.

By 2009, with Iraq in chaos, impoverished Sierra Leone was looking for a way to engage its workforce, said Maya Mynster Christensen, a researcher at the Danish Institute Against Torture who made repeated trips to the West African country.

"From a Sierra Leone government perspective the recruitment was supposedly quite a good deal because it could take the local troublemakers and send them to Iraq for a couple of years," the anthropologist told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The government returned the men, many of them now in their late twenties and thirties, with money earned on their overseas deployment," she said.

But Christensen said this ran counter to Sierra Leone's stated policy of demobilization following the civil war."

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