Iraqi unemployment reaches 70%

A study by the college of economics at Baghdad University has found that the unemployment rate in Iraq is 70%.

    Unemployed Iraqis protesting in front of the US embassy

    The study says the problem of high unemployment is going from bad to worse, with the security situation deterioriating and the reconstruction process faltering.

    Private employment agencies - a new phenomenon in post-Saddam Iraq - are cropping up across the country and advertising their "services" through the mass media.

    Promising job opportunities in Libya and Arab Gulf states, these advertisements have aroused a mixture of interest, distrust and resentment.

    Long queues of Iraqis can be seen every morning outside the advertisers' offices, carrying their CVs and the $50 application fee.  

    Guidelines introduced by the private employment offices state that every applicant must pay $50, with just half the amount refundable should the agency fail to get the applicant a job .

    Easy money

    Abd Al-Hamid Abd, a Baghdad resident, said he submitted his application despite warnings from his friends.

    "All the people I know who have applied said they were contacted and told that their applications were unsuccessful," he said.

    Fly-by-night agencies are ripping
    off desperate Iraqi job seekers

    "They suspected that keeping 50% of the applicants' fees was the main objective of the agencies, but I applied anyway. I have to believe in anyone who offers me hope."

    Several residents of Baghdad told they had heard of employment agencies offering jobs within Iraq, but not outside the country.

    In most cases, these offices offer jobs with the US occupation authorities and companies linked to them. Some Iraqis have no problems working for the Americans, while others reject the idea.

    "I was offered more than four jobs, but all of them were either with US forces and authorities, or with companies associated with them. I cannot work in these positions," Nasrin al-Agha of Baghdad said.

    "Not everyone is willing to risk his life for the sake of making a living. What do my children gain if I am killed in one of those attacks on a US installation?"


    Ala al-Qaisi, 56, a father of three who fought in the Iran-Iraq war, expressed disappointment with the fact that all the jobs seemed to be in the hands of the US authorities.

    "I cannot accept a job with the US authorities or a company which supplies them. I care about my image in the eyes of my children. After defending Iraq for eight years, how can I accept work with a country that is militarily occupying the country I fought for?"

    "I cannot see my children starve. If those who are claiming to be patriotic really care for us, let them pay us salaries and we will not go to work with the
    US occupation"

    Lamya al-Tahir, a resident of Baghdad

    Lamya al-Tahir, a 48-year-old engineer, offered a different perspective. She said working with the foreigners to earn a living did not necessarily mean treason.

    "My husband's salary covers less than half of our needs. How can we feed our children? I cannot see my children starve. If those who are claiming to be patriotic really care for us, let them pay us salaries and we will not go to work with the US occupation," she said.

    The number of people out of work in Iraq has been on the rise since the then US administrator Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army, security organisations and the Ministry of Information - a decision that made hundreds of thousands of people unemployed at the stroke of a pen.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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