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Poverty and unemployment among northern Christians

By Layla Yousif Rahema

Families living in villages in Zakho District are worn out by the lack of work, food and basic services. “We depend entirely on aid from humanitarian organisations and the Church,” some say. Children have a hard time integrating in schools where Kurdish is the language of education.

9/20/2010 Iraq (AsiaNews) – Iraqi families that fled north have to endure unemployment, poverty, lack of basic services, shortages of food and fuel and poor prospects. Many of them are Christian from Baghdad and Mosul and found refuge in Zakho District, Dohuk Governatorate (Iraqi Kurdistan). After years, their living conditions have not improved. Ankawa.com recently published a report on their dramatic situation.

Unemployment remains the main problem. The main breadwinners have had to seek work in Baghdad or nearby Erbil. Children have had to quit schools unable to study in Kurdish, a language they do not know. Those can study often do not have the money to buy school material, which is expensive given the wages of average families. Joblessness is closely related to the fact that when work is available, it is in the farming sector, whilst most migrants come from cities and do not have the necessary experience to work on farms.

In practical terms, survival depends on aid provided by humanitarian organisations operating in the area and the Church. Representatives of the local Christian community are able to provide families with US$ 50 a month, which is inadequate to help even the smallest of families.

Food prices are rising because of the lack of control by the authorities. Many families get food rations provided by the government but only in their place of origin. However, travelling to Baghdad, Basra or Mosul to get them means paying for high transportation costs and especially take risks given the insecurity that prevails in those areas.

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