Black and Asian Scots soldiers seek compensation for injuries caused by low temperatures

Source Daily Record

Army bosses have been swamped with claims from more than 1000 soldiers suffering non-freezing cold injuries (NFCIs).

Black and Asian Scottish soldiers could be in line for bumper cash windfalls over claims they have been left prone to injuries from cold conditions.

Army bosses have been swamped with compensation claims from more than 1000 soldiers suffering non-freezing cold injuries (NFCIs), similar to trench foot conditions suffered by soldiers on the frontline during World War I.

About one in 10 soldiers in Scots regiments are foreign-born and legal experts say they’ve been failed by Army bosses as they are more vulnerable to such injuries while on exercise or deployment.

Lawyers acting for the affected personnel say research has uncovered black soldiers, for example, are at a 30 per cent greater risk of suffering from an NFCI.

The news comes as record numbers of foreigners from nations such as Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand, St Lucia and Uganda have joined Scotland’s frontline troops.

Foreign soldiers based in England have already received undisclosed payouts and claims have been made in one case for up to £200,000 in compensation for the life-changing injuries.

Ahmed Al-Nahhas, partner in military claims at legal firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, said soldiers from ethnic minorities were often told to ignore their symptoms and “man up”. He said the MoD were failing servicemen and women across the UK.

He added: “With significant numbers of soldiers from the Commonwealth and frequent low temperatures and wet conditions in the country, the Ministry of Defence must do everything in their power to ensure Scottish Army regiments are provided with adequate equipment and training to prevent cold injuries.

“Black soldiers are 30 percent more likely to suffer cold injuries than their Caucasian counterparts and black servicemen and women suffered 40.1 percent of recorded cold injuries in the British Army.”

The number of overseas troops in the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Scots Guards and tank unit the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards has rocketed.

Ongoing problems recruiting and retaining soldiers from Scotland mean there has been a rising international feel to the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Hundreds of claims for this injury are occurring every year and are on the rise, showing the MoD have yet to learn the lessons of the Falklands conflict 35 years ago, where soldiers suffered with injuries caused by cold, wet conditions.

Claims for debilitating cold injuries from servicemen in the British Army have risen significantly.

In 2015/16, the Government paid out £1.49million to servicemen for non-freezing cold injuries under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme – a 20 per cent rise on the previous year.

Since 2006, 1235 armed forces personnel have received compensation from the government for this injury. Last year saw a 16.7 per cent rise in the total number of service personnel awarded compensation and, over the last 10 years, claims have risen by 1650 percent.

The condition affects the hands and feet, and sometimes genitals, causing chronic pain, numbness and swelling. Soldiers can be medically downgraded or discharged from duty as they can no longer take part in outdoor activities.

An MoD spokesman, said: “Our people get regular training and education as well as the right kit for cold conditions, but this type of injury can affect anyone.

We carefully consider all claims and, having rightly paid out where there is a legal liability to do so, the number of our personnel paid compensation has remained steady.”

Abdoulie Jallow, 28, a Gambian ex-serviceman, suffered cold injuries during routine military training courses.

Jallow was injured in 2012 by the freezing conditions he slept in on an exercise in north Yorkshire.

He didn’t receive a cold weather kit, usually provided to Commonwealth soldiers, until after the exercise. He said: “My legs and hands went numb. I told the platoon sergeant but wasn’t taken out of the exercise.

“I later complained again and was eventually sent to the doctors.”

Jacob Anum, a 39-year-old Ghanian, claimed compensation after suffering injuries while on duty in Germany and Canada. Anum performed well in the Army and applied for promotion despite his injury.

But he was downgraded and medically discharged.

He said: “I lost my career and the organisation that I worked so hard to be part of. How can that be fair treatment?”

Last year, a black former soldier launched a legal claim against the MoD for injuries sustained during winter training.

Abdoulie Bojang, 30, was training in Banff, Canada, and was seeking £200,000 after he says his hands were exposed to temperatures of -30C.

Whatever happened to race being just a social construct? An illusion with no biological basis? How can it be then, that a black solider is 30% more likely to get a cold injury?

If these soldiers can’t operate in the harsh environment of the British wild, then how can they be expected to defend the country?

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