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Iraq deports thousands of foreign workers

Iraqi blacksmiths manufacture an agricultural sickle at a workshop in the Al-Alawi district of the capital Baghdad, on 20 June 2021. [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]
Iraqi blacksmiths manufacture an agricultural sickle at a workshop in the Al-Alawi district of the capital Baghdad, on 20 June 2021. [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]

The Iraqi government announced yesterday that it has deported thousands of foreign workers, Anadolu has reported. Moreover, 400 private sector companies have been referred to the judiciary for not complying with a decision to localise the workforce.

"Thousands of foreign workers whose residency was illegal and affected Iraqi employment opportunities have been deported," said Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Adel Al-Rikabi.

Iraqi law obliges all companies to employ Iraqi workers for at least 50 per cent of their workforce. However, private sector companies still employ foreign workers instead of Iraqis, because they accept lower wages and work longer hours.

Al-Rikabi added that a warning has been sent to 350 other companies to implement the law within a specified period. He noted that they too will be referred to the judiciary in case of non-compliance.

Iraqis have been protesting for years against the high unemployment and poverty rates in the country. According to the latest data from the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, the unemployment rate in oil-rich Iraq is 27 per cent, while the poverty rate is 25 per cent.

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