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African Soldier Sues British Army Over Cold Weather

African
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
VIRGINIA HALE

A soldier from Africa is suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for £150,000, claiming they failed to protect him from cold weather conditions.

Michael Asiamah, from Ghana, brought the negligence claim after allegedly suffering a “cold-related” condition during exercises on Salisbury Plain in March 2016.

According to his lawyers, the 36-year-old suffered pain and numbness in his feet and hands after he was exposed to 18 hours of cold and windy conditions during Exercise Scorpion.

Mr Asiamah told the High Court his superiors had neglected to warn him to bring warm kit such as gloves, socks, and boots ahead of the exercise, which he said took place one week after he was forced to spend five hours listening to lectures in cold weather while dressed in civilian clothing in Naseby, Northamptonshire.

His legal team argues officers exposed Mr Asiamah to the uncomfortable conditions despite knowing Africans are more susceptible to cold-related conditions, according to court papers which quote a 2009 military study which found soldiers of African origin were 30 times more likely to suffer cold-related injuries than indigenous Europeans.

The ex-soldier also accused the MoD of failing to follow its own advice on evacuating people with non-freezing cold injuries in order to prevent the conditions from worsening, reports the Express, which saw papers relating to the case.

Mr Asiamah, who served with the Adjutant General’s Corps until he left the Army in October 2016, claims he is still suffering as a result of the MoD’s failings, alleging that ongoing effects from the cold-related condition have all but killed his dream of becoming a Physical Education instructor.

Army officials, who are expected to contest the former soldier’s claims, maintain that Mr Asiamah was provided with appropriate clothing for the exercises.

According to a report by Lawyer Monthly last year, compensation claims over non-freezing cold injuries suffered by servicemen have soared in recent years, with the Government paying out £1.49 million in 2015/16 under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme — a 20 percent rise on the previous year.

Commenting on news that claims had soared by an astonishing 1650 percent between 2006 and 2016, military claims lawyer Ahmed Al-Nahhas said the MoD was failing black servicemen, who he noted “suffered 40.1 percent of recorded cold injuries in the British Army” despite comprising just 0.1 per cent of British forces personnell.

Reporting on the British Army’s opening recruitment up to foreign nationals who have never lived in Britain, a move which was announced in November, Breitbart London noted that the rule change was being publicised in African media outlets almost a week ahead of the news appearing in the British press.

Against a backdrop of military bosses struggling to hit recruitment targets, MoD chiefs said they hoped scrapping residency requirements for Commonwealth citizens — who were previously required to have lived in Britain for five years before applying for service — would raise the number of foreign personnel enlisted annually from 200 to 1,350.

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