Jobs await OFWs—in Iraq’s Kurd region

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03:20 AM September 26th, 2011

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By: Jerome Aning, September 26th, 2011 03:20 AM

Thousands of jobs await Filipino workers in the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan, where the economy is booming, a recruitment specialist said Sunday.

“Not only is Iraqi Kurdistan the most developed and relatively peaceful region in Iraq, it is also on its way to becoming an investment destination,” said  Emmanuel Geslani in a statement.

Geslani said local recruiters were hoping the total lifting of the deployment ban to Iraq would open jobs for Overseas Filipino Workers displaced by the Libyan conflict in the oil and gas sector in Kurdistan which needs engineers, technicians and other related professionals.

Geslani, a major advocate of the lifting of the deployment ban to Iraq and Afghanistan,  hoped Filipino diplomats headed by Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who visited Baghdad and the Kurdish capital Erbil recently, would recommend that Filipinos be allowed to work in Iraq again.

Seguis met with Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, who heads the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Citing government and  industry estimates, Geslani said there were 5,000 to 7,000 undocumented OFWs in Kurdistan who were looking forward to the lifting of the deployment ban so they could go home and be legitimized by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration like the  OFWs working in US military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most OFWs in Kurdistan have been working there since 2005 in infrastructure projects, oil and the petroleum industry, telecoms, hotels and schools teaching English, Geslani said.

Despite isolated cases of bombings and terror attacks in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Geslani said  Kurdistan, administered by the democratically elected KRG, remains a magnet for Iraqis from the south looking to escape violence and for international companies wanting to enter Iraq.

Billions of dollars, he added, were being spent on infrastructure projects like new roads, dams, communications, electricity distribution, sewage and water facilities by the regional government funded by the oil industry.

Tourist spots are being developed in the cities of Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah where there are natural and cultural attractions.

Thousands of new jobs are opening up in the capital Erbil which local leaders plan to convert into a “New Dubai,” Geslani said, adding that the city has modern malls with stores of international brands including Levi’s, Timberland and Ecco, and indoor skating rinks.

“New hotel chains are sprouting international hotel operators, including Marriott and Moevenpick, are looking at opportunities to open hotels in Erbil, which would largely accommodate business travelers working on oil and gas and infrastructure projects in the region,” Geslani said.

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