Sierra Leone workers head for Iraq
About 100 Sierra Leonean nurses, lab technicians, caterers and plumbers were this
weekend flying to Iraq to join the growing number of West Africans being contracted
to perform the mundane tasks underpinning the US-led presence in the country.
This week's departures will bring to 440 the number of Sierra Leoneans in Iraq
under a contract signed by the Sierra Leone government with a private US supply
The Labour Ministry's overseas employment officer Ismael Kargbo declined to
reveal the name of the company, but said the government had contracted a wage
of roughly $100 per month for each of the workers, plus perks such as free international
The recruitment programme is not confined to Iraq, Kargbo said, but includes
the supply of blue-collar skilled workers to Jordan, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
Labor Minister Alpha Timbo said Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea also were supplying
"I personally feel good about the venture, and the recruits are happy
to go and work in a foreign country," he said, noting there were 2000 people
on the waiting list, vying for fewer than 400 more spots.
"Everyone is eager to go as, in its present stage, the Sierra Leone economy
cannot provide jobs for many people locally."
Though $100 seems a paltry sum for braving the hazards of Iraq, the fate of
many in Sierra Leone is comparably dire.
Emerging from a decade of brutal civil war marked by the maiming and mutilation
and rapes of thousands of civilians, Sierra Leone is the world's least developed
country, with soaring unemployment, little infrastructure and extreme poverty.
Aminata Sesay was one of many mothers who saw off their children on Saturday,
proud that her son Amadu Turay, 24, was among those chosen to work as a cleaner
"I fully support my son's decision to travel," she said. "I
just need him to call me when he arrives to tell me that things are good for