By Tom Esslemont, allAfrica
London — 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.