- Title: Unemployment and worsening living conditions motivate Iraq's youth to protest
- Date: 3rd October 2019
- Summary: BAGHDAD, IRAQ (OCTOBER 3, 2019) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS GATHERING AND CHANTING NEAR FIRE BURNING PROTESTERS DANCING AND SINGING PROTESTERS STANDING NEAR SIGH READING (Arabic) "The time has come to hold the corrupt accountable" BASRA, IRAQ (OCTOBER 3, 2019) (REUTERS) UNIVERSITY GRADUATE, MOSTAFA HYAL, WALKING THROUGH SUPERMARKET HYAL ORGANISING SHELVES HYAL PACKING GOODS IN BAGS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIVERSITY GRADUATE, MOSTAFA HYAL, SAYING: "This is corruption. My wife has graduated from the same college I was in. She is also unemployed. There is no employment and it is all from the corruption of the government. They promise us but they never deliver. I was forced to work in a market to cover my expenses and take care of my wife." VARIOUS OF HYAL WORKING THE COUNTER OF THE SUPERMARKET (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIVERSITY GRADUATE, MOSTAFA HYAL, SAYING: "It is their right (to protest). They are tired. How long have they graduated? I have graduated three years ago and there are people who even graduated before I did. How are they living? They were looking to get married and live life." VARIOUS OF HYAL STANDING BEHIND COUNTER IN SUPERMARKET (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIVERSITY GRADUATE, MOSTAFA HYAL, SAYING: "The youth are the one's graduating and the government is not able to exploit their energy. Why are they not exploiting it? I support these protests." BAGHDAD, IRAQ (OCTOBER 3, 2019) (REUTERS) FIRE LIT BY PROTESTERS ON STREET/PROTESTERS STANDING BY (SOUNDBITE)) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED BAGHDAD PROTESTER, SAYING: "We want our situation to become better. We are youth without a job. We have no money. The country is taking money from abroad and it needs to benefit its own people in this nation. They take the money for their houses, their food and drink. That's fine by me, but we want them to see our condition. We are very tired." PROTESTERS CHANTING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED BAGHDAD PROTESTER, SAYING: "Our motto is: 'Those who are corrupt, get out.' We are protesting for what is our right." TYRES AND DEBRIS BURNING ON ROAD
- Embargoed: 17th October 2019 21:24
- Keywords: Baghdad economy anti-government riots unemployment corruption Basra protesters Iraq protests
- Location: BAGHDAD AND BASRA, IRAQ
- City: BAGHDAD AND BASRA, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Civil Unrest,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001AZJO1FR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Graduating with a business management university degree three years ago, Basra local Mustafa Hyal had high hopes for a promising future in his home-country of Iraq. Today, he is planning to join the nationwide protests.
Barely making ends meet working as a local supermarket teller, 25-year-old Hyal never got the government job he hoped for and he blames corruption.
Fed up of waiting for a peace dividend, Iraqis feel their country should be well on the road to recovery by now. War against the Islamic State ended two years ago and the oil-rich country has seen an unprecedented level of security since.
But corruption and economic mismanagement have worsened conditions even further, for many, leading to a new round of unrest and anger at a government that has been in power almost a year.
"They promise us but they never deliver. I was forced to work in a market to cover my expenses and take care of my wife," Hyal told Reuters.
Protesters took to the streets in their thousands on Tuesday (October 1) rallying against graft, and demanding jobs and services. Security forces opened fire on protesters on Tuesday and Wednesday (October 2). Twenty-seven people have died in the three days of anti-government protests and scores, including police, have been injured.
Unemployment stood at 13 percent with youth unemployment at 25.6 percent in 2017, according to International Labour Organization data. A survey by the National Democratic Institute in July said a large majority of Iraqis see corruption as worsening in recent years.
Most protesters are young men seeking jobs and services promised for years by successive governments.
"We want our situation to become better. We are youth without a job. We have no money," said one young protester in Baghdad.
Iraq still suffers from a chronic lack of job opportunities, power and water supply and other basic services two years after the war against the hardline Islamic State (IS) ended.
Iraqis hoped better security would offer the respite needed to fix infrastructure. Roads, hospitals, schools and much else were hurt by years of war and neglect, including U.N. sanctions, a U.S.-led invasion and toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, civil war and most recently the fight against IS.
(Production: Mohamed Atti, Wissam Al Okaili Maher Nazeh, Mostafa Salem)
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