A UK-based private security firm recruited former child soldiers from African countries such as Sierra Leone to serve as mercenaries in Iraq, a former director of the company said in a documentary titled “The Child Soldier’s New Job”.
The documentary aired by The Guardian, shows about 2,500 Africans from Sierra Leone being recruited by the British private security firm Aegis Defence Services to be sent to Iraq as mercenaries.
The African mercenaries were paid as little as $16 a day to fight in Iraq for the US.
James Ellery, who was a director of Aegis Defence Services between 2005 and 2015, told The Guardian that the security firm recruited from Africa because “there’s high unemployment and a decent workforce” that would help it reduce cost for the US presence in Iraq.
“You probably would have a better force if you recruited entirely from the Midlands of England,” Ellery, a former brigadier in the British army, told the Guardian.
“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.”
Aegis had entered into contracts worth several million-dollars to provide guards to protect US military bases in Iraq from 2004 onwards, IBTimes reported.
The firm had been recruiting people from the UK, the US and Nepal, but later headed to African countries from 2011 onwards to save on costs. Canadian security company GardaWorld took over Aegis in 2015.
The documentary shows several interviews of former civil war fighters who now work in Iraq.
“Every time I hold a weapon, it keeps reminding me of about the past. It brings back many memories,” Gibrilla Kuyateh, one of the interviewees, said. He goes on to add that rebels killed his mother and kidnapped him when he was 13.