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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Iraqis face soaring unemployment
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC correspondent in Baghdad

Iraqi men complaining about their wages
Failure to create jobs may play into the hands of pro-Saddam groups
One of the biggest problems facing post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is unemployment.

More than 60% of the work force in Iraq is estimated to be out of work.

Unemployment was already very high under the rule of the Baath party.

But the collapse of the Iraqi Government and the subsequent dissolution of the army have added to the ever growing queues of unemployed Iraqis.

Bringing down the number of people out of work will prove key to stability in Iraq.

We need jobs, we don't have food, we need security, we need electricity

What you might call a job centre has sprung up at the famous square in Baghdad, where the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by the crowd in front of the world's television cameras.

But next to it there are several stalls that sell various applications for jobs, to work for the coalition forces or private companies.

One form says that you have to specify whether you were a member of the Baath party and say exactly what function you had.

There is another for people who want to work as security guards for the coalition forces.

There is also an application form for former Iraqi soldiers who want to get their salary arrears for the past four months.

Apparently US civil administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer has made an announcement that starting from 14 July, payments to those soldiers will begin.

Some stalls are charging for application forms. "No money, no job," said one stallholder.

Another stallholder says he was an officer in the army but now he is reduced to selling these application forms.

Baathist militias

He says he would like to join the new army. This kind of response is typical in Baghdad now.

"We need jobs, we don't have food, we need security, we need electricity," many people say.

People here are desperate to get their voices heard across the world.

A few days ago an Iraqi man who has been out of work for months told me Baathists had been trying to recruit militias in the poor suburb where he lives.

Failure to create new jobs in Iraq will most likely play into the hands of pro-Saddam Hussein groups.

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