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Unemployed South Iraq Protesters Ask for Job Opportunities | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A worker walks at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra, Iraq December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani/Files

Basra-Hundreds of Iraqis from the southern district of Zubair held a protest on Sunday on a road leading to oil fields to ask for job opportunities.

The protesters tried to block access to some oil fields in the area managed by UK’s British Petroleum and Italian oil firm Eni to press their demand for jobs in the sector, which is the backbone of the nation’s economy.

The demonstrators stopped oil workers from reaching the oil fields, Agence France Presse reported.

“Zubair’s oil is being stolen by thieves” the protesters chanted. “It’s our oil, we have a right to it,” was another of their slogans.

“I graduated in computer engineering five years ago and I still haven’t found a job,” said one of the demonstrators, Ahmed Hassan al-Tamimi.

“Most of the youth in Zubair is unemployed. Even when the oil companies are hiring, they bring people from other provinces and nobody cares about our area because we don’t belong to any party and have no connections,” said 29-year-old Tamimi.

Residents of the district of Zubair where Tamimi lives suffer from health issues for being too close to oil fields.

Sunday’s protest was the second in one month.

British Petroleum and Eni have won contracts to improve oil fields in southern Iraq since 2009.

Despite its oil wealth, the Basra region suffers from poor services and huge unemployment as a result of rampant corruption in state institutions.