When Ramesh Khadka left his home in Nepal he thought he was heading for a new job and a better life in Jordan. At least, that is what the Nepalese broker who hired him had promised. But that is not what happened. Instead, a few weeks later, as shown in a shocking video posted on the Internet, Khadka was executed in Iraq. Insurgents had murdered him as a warning to other foreign workers not to come to Iraq.

When Ramesh Khadka left Nepal he thought
he was heading for a better life in Jordan

Ramesh Khadka's story is just one example of what can go wrong along the shadowy trail that sends poor Nepalese to work in some of the most dangerous places in the world. In this case, brokers, or middlemen, based in Nepal, have been hiring labourers to operate in the multi-billion dollar reconstruction business that is underway in Iraq. One of the biggest projects is the six hundred million dollar American embassy being built in the Iraqi capital. Jobs range from security to construction to medical care. Some of those hired know where they are heading, others like Khadka, do not. 

All this raises questions about the legality of the movement of workers, and who is really responsible for that movement. There is an elaborate maze of brokers, transport agencies, subcontractors and main contractors involved. Some of the main contractors doing business in Iraq are huge American companies, like Halliburton, whose political connections to the administration of George Bush, the US president, and Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, are well known. 

Should the US government carry some
responsibility for foreign workers in Iraq?

In Working in the War Zone, Al Jazeera examines the secretive world that moves thousands of workers into Iraq and the consequences some of those workers then face. In a particularly revealing moment, hidden Al Jazeera cameras catch how a Nepalese broker tries to hire two workers during a secret meeting held in a Nepalese motel room. The recording goes on to reveal details of just how the contracting operation unfolds. But this documentary also raises questions about whether the American government should carry some responsibility for foreign workers being brought to Iraq at the expense of Iraqi workers desperate for jobs in their own land.

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Source: Al Jazeera