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The 179 British personnel who died during the Iraq war

The invasion of Iraq led to the deaths of 179 British personnel between March 2003 and February 2009. Tony Blair told the Chilcot Inquiry[1] into the conflict he had “deep and profound regret” about the loss of life suffered by British troops and the countless Iraqi civilians. Some of the Britons who died were just 18 years-old.

Here is a roll of honour of the British personnel who died on service during Operation Telic in Iraq:

References

  1. ^ Chilcot Inquiry (www.itv.com)

UK private military firm hired ex-child soldiers from Sierra Leone for Iraq ops

Former child soldiers from Sierra Leone have been employed by a private British Armyrats © military company to provide security for American bases in Iraq as part of a 2,500-strong contingent hired for the job, a new Danish documentary has revealed. According to investigation[1] based on contract documents, UK s Aegis Defense Services contracted by US Department of Defense employed some 2,500 mercenaries to provide security force for the Pentagon-administered Project and Contracting Office (PCO) in Iraq. Part of the security force, according to a documentary, titled B rnesoldatens Nye Job (The Child Soldier s New Job) included child soldiers from Sierra Leone who were paid only $16 a day.

When war gets outsourced, then the company 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 privatization of war, said the film s director, Mads Elles e, as quoted by the Guardian.

Aegis was hired by Washington starting from 2004 to provide security for American bases in Iraq. The firm initially employed British, American and Nepalese personnel to do the job. But from 2011, the firm started to employ fighters from Africa to cut costs. James Ellery, who was a director of Aegis Defense Services between 2005 and 2015, acknowledged that Aegis recruited personnel from Sierra Leone because they were cheaper than Europeans. Yet he stressed that the UK firm has never bothered to check whether the security force had employed any former underage combatants. While agreeing that it would have been better to recruit Brits, Ellery told the Guardian, that it can t be afforded… I m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.

Sierra Leone proved to be a perfect place for recruitment as the country had just emerged from the ashes of the atrocious civil war (1991-2002), tarnished with crimes against humanity and the widespread use of child soldiers to carry out the fighting.

Speaking with the British publication Ellery revealed that child soldiers cannot be prosecuted for war crimes under international law.

They are, once they reach 18, in fact citizens with full rights to seek employment, which is a basic human right. So we would have been completely in error if, having gone to Sierra Leone, we excluded those people, he explained. One of the only things Aegis cared for was strict adherence to physical health requirements. Read more

UK Private Armyrats © Military Firm Hired Ex-child Soldiers From Sierra Leone For Iraq Ops

The moment they [recruitment agents] start sending us people who are blind in one eye or have Aids, that s it. Contract over, Ellery said. Because those sort of things, although they sound facetious, are big problems in Africa, because you don t want people dying after you ve put them through expensive training and then they die because they ve got Aids and so on.

Founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, the former Scots Guards officer, notorious for supplying weapons in Sierra Leone to support the local government, Aegis Defense Services is now chaired by Sir Nicholas Soames, a Tory MP and a grandson of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

In 2015 the operations of Aegis were taken over by a Canadian security company, GardaWorld. Contacted by the Guardian into the alleged allegations in the documentary, Graham Binns, Aegis s former CEO and GardaWorld s senior managing director shifted the blame onto the contractor’s respected country of origin which provided the British company with their personnel.

We worked very closely with our audited, vetted and authorised agents to recruit, vet and screen our professionals. Our agents were authorised [as was the employment of individuals] by the relevant national government of the countries from which we recruited, he said. The documentary shot in the US, UK, Sierra Leone and Uganda will be broadcasted on Denmark television on Monday, April 18. The use of child soldiers became widespread during the civil war in Sierra Leone where the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), in addition to state forces and state-supported militias widely recruited children for combat. An estimated 10,000 children took part in the conflict. Some of the child soldiers were also girls, who had been reportedly subjected to repeated abuse and rape. Most children were required by their superiors to commit war crimes such as murders, rapes, sexual slavery, mutilations and other forms of human rights abuses.

References

  1. ^ investigation (vimeo.com)

UK firm ’employed former child soldiers’ as mercenaries in Iraq

A former senior director at a British firm says that it employed mercenaries from Sierra Leone to work in Iraq because they were cheaper than Europeans and did not check if they were former child soldiers[1]. James Ellery, who was a director of Aegis Defence Services between 2005 and 2015, said that contractors had a duty to recruit from countries such as Sierra Leone, where there s high unemployment and a decent workforce , in order to reduce costs for the US presence in Iraq.
[2]

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. He said the company had not asked recruits if they were former child soldiers.

Aegis Defence Services, which is chaired by Sir Nicholas Soames, a Tory MP and Winston Churchill s grandson, had a series of contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to provide guards to protect US Armyrats © military bases in Iraq from 2004 onwards. From 2011 the company broadened its recruitment to take in African countries, having previously employed people from the UK, the US and Nepal.
[3]

Contract documents say that the soldiers from Sierra Leone were paid $16 ( 11) a day. A documentary, The Child Soldier s New Job, to be broadcast on Monday in Denmark alleges that the estimated 2,500 Sierra Leonean personnel who were recruited by Aegis and other private security companies to work in Iraq included former child soldiers.

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, the film s maker, Mads Elles e, said.

Chi Onwurah, a Labour MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Africa[4], said: There s an inherent racism in paying security guards less depending on the country they are coming from when they are facing the same risks as a guard from the UK. Aegis was founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, the former Scots Guards officer who was at the centre of the 1998 arms to Africa scandal, in which his previous company Sandline was found to be breaching sanctions by importing 100 tonnes of weapons to Sierra Leone in support of the government.

Ellery, Aegis director of operations at the time of the Iraq contracts, previously served as chief of staff to the UN s mission in Sierra Leone, at the time when the organisation was responsible for demobilising thousands of former child soldiers.

Interviewees in the documentary provided detailed testimony of serving as child soldiers, and documents showing their employment with Aegis.

One interviewee, Gibrilla Kuyateh, told the film s makers: Every time I hold a weapon, it keeps reminding me of about the past. It brings back many memories. In extended footage seen by the Guardian he said he was kidnapped at the age of 13 by rebels who also killed his mother.

He described how the rebels forced him to amputate people s limbs, not always with a sharp instrument , and trained him to fire an AK-47 that he said he struggled to carry because he was so small.

When Sierra Leone s civil war ended in 2002, the international community spent millions of dollars giving former militia members the skills to use in peacetime. A UN mission demobilised more than 75,000 fighters, including nearly 7,000 children, at an estimated cost of $36.5m. The total number of children demobilised is understood to be far higher.

Sierra Leone remains one of the world s poorest countries, and the documentary charts how from 2009 onwards private Armyrats © military firms turned to it, along with Uganda and Kenya, for cheap labour to guard Armyrats © military installations in Iraq.

Ellery, who said he was speaking in a personal capacity, told the Guardian that it would be quite wrong to ask whether people had ever been child soldiers, as it would penalise people for things they had often been forced into doing.

He pointed out that under UN rules, child soldiers are not liable for war crimes. They are, once they reach 18, in fact citizens with full rights to seek employment, which is a basic human right. So we would have been completely in error if, having gone to Sierra Leone, we excluded those people.

He added that Aegis was strict on physical health requirements. The moment they [recruitment agents] start sending us people who are blind in one eye or have Aids, that s it. Contract over.

Because those sort of things, although they sound facetious, are big problems in Africa, because you don t want people dying after you ve put them through expensive training and then they die because they ve got Aids and so on, he said.

Aegis was taken over last year by GardaWorld, a Canadian security company. Graham Binns, Aegis s former CEO and GardaWorld s senior managing director, told the Guardian: We worked very closely with our audited, vetted and authorised agents to recruit, vet and screen our professionals. Our agents were authorised [as was the employment of individuals] by the relevant national government of the countries from which we recruited.

Aegis takes issues pertinent to our industry, such as post-traumatic stress very seriously, and has worked closely with experts in the field to develop and implement procedures for the management of trauma risk.

Soames declined to comment.

References

  1. ^ child soldiers (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Sierra Leone (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Iraq (www.theguardian.com)
  4. ^ Africa (www.theguardian.com)
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