The main German TV station, "Das Erste", just reported last night that former child soldiers are being recruited for security forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are looking for quick money or just a job in a country that hasn't much to offer. The salary is six times the normal average. Having lived through a civil war, they are not afraid of anything. One of them, Ssali Twaha, reports about death and the sustained injuries he experienced. "We thought we'd be safe. We were promised we would be stationed in the Green Zone and no danger."
Ssali describes in detail how he and his friends were wounded when the entrance to the camp and several watch towers got under fire. The dangers of war- you would think.
The problem however is only starting to unfold when these young men go home to Uganda. In theory, the law is on their side. They are insured by their US employers to get medical treatment in accordance with a law from 1941. The US state pays AIG and CAN and their subsidiaries to cover their workers abroad. Paid by tax payer money. An American Attorney, Tara Coughlin, followed up on this and confirmed that these injured Ugandan soldiers often are on their own. She found injured soldiers returned to Uganda who were denied their pay and medical care. Ssali was half paralyzed and practically helpless.
Coughlin went to court in the USA on behalf of Ssali Twaha and 60 more victims came forward. Many of them have reportedly been harassed by insurance agents to drop their case, even got death threats.
Change of scenery. A farewell party in Iraq for returning soldiers. The security company found cheaper soldiers who work for only $400 a month instead of the $1000 that Ugandans like Ssali were paid. Recruits now come from Pakistan. War and death are being outsourced.
The world knows about child soldiers and is outraged about rebel leaders like Joseph Kony who exploit young boys. Rosario Achola, the Uganda journalist who first broke the story is devastated:"These young boys have nothing left when they leave these rebel armies. War is all they know and there is nothing to come back to. So they fight over jobs that promise them a way to keep going. To me this is a form of modern slavery."
NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15124608) reported already back in 2007:" U.S. Contractors in Iraq Rely on Third-World Labor." There is no mention of the medical aspect, however, and the human tragedy that ensues that has become public now.
The outsourcing continues. It's a big money generating business for contractors and won't go away any time soon. The big irony is that the US, although outraged over the Kony army and their horrible track record, protects its interest by former child soldiers from a country like Uganda who had nothing to do with the Iraq war.
Responsible for the content of the Germans news:Marcel Kolvenbach and Daniel Satra. Thanks for your brilliant report.