Iraqi Diaspora to Help Rebuild Iraq

A programme to help and encourage Iraqi
expatriates wanting to contribute to the reconstruction of their
country is currently selecting 60 people to work in various Iraqi
government ministries for assignments ranging from between three
months to a year.

More than 400 applications have been received
so far to participate in the “Iraqis Rebuilding Iraq”
(IRI) programme, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Planning and
Development Cooperation (MoPDC), IOM and the UN’s Development
Programme (UNDP), which started last September.

Continued violence and conflict in Iraq has
led to the ‘brain drain’ of many of the country’s
top professionals, across all sectors. At least one million Iraqis
have fled to neighbouring countries since the first Gulf War in
1991 while internal displacement of another one million people is
also impacting upon the country’s socio-economic

Academics, such as teaching staff and
professors, are in especially heavy demand by the Ministry of
Education and Iraqi Universities, particularly for the academic
year commencing September 2006. In the same vein, medical
professionals who can train Iraqi medical staff are also urgently
needed across the country. The programme is seeking qualified Iraqi
expatriates to match positions prioritized by the Iraqi MoPDC.

According to Dr. Sami Matti, the Deputy
Minister for Administration of the MoPDC: “The IRI programme
is one of the development programmes really showing tangible
results. It is frustrating as many projects are on hold due to the
security situation. However, IRI is going ahead and for this
reason, we wish to extend the programme until mid 2007.”

Interested candidates have applied from
countries many countries, including UK, the Netherlands, Germany,
Sweden, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon.
Applications also cover a wide geographical area, with
approximately one third of the people requesting to be assigned to
Baghdad, a quarter in Iraq’s northern governorates and the
remainder across the rest of the country.

One of the already selected candidates is Dr.
Abbas, originally from Sulaimaniyeh, who fled Iraq more than two
decades ago as a political refugee during the Iran-Iraq war. A
senior lecturer in child psychology in Sweden, Dr. Abbas is now
returning to Iraq to work closely with a university department in
northern Iraq.

"The field of child mental health is one which
we don’t pay enough attention to in the Arab region. It is
estimated that over 40 per cent of children in Iraq suffer from
post-traumatic stress disorder because of the ongoing conflict.
This number could even be much higher in some locations. My area of
speciality is a new field for Iraqis and through my assignment, I
hope to encourage more attention to this area so that we can catch
up with international standards," said Dr. Abbas.

Although the programme is to be extended,
Rafiq Tschannen, IOM Iraq chief of mission, is encouraging Iraqi
expatriate experts who wish to register to do so soon as the last
placements will commence November 2006.

“This is an important opportunity for
Iraqi professionals abroad to contribute to the development of
their country within the framework of the new government, so we
encourage all Iraqis who may be interested to contact us, so that
we can match appropriate vacancies with available skills,’ he

For more information on the IRI programme,
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For further information, please contact:

Zahra Bolouri

IOM Amman

Tel: +962 656 59 660

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