The Iraqi government has temporarily detained more than 100 international workers in recent weeks over visas and paperwork issues, according to the International Stability Operations Association, a trade group representing contractors.
“We want to ensure that you are aware of the seriousness of this issue and the impact it is having on our members’ ability to support the transition and government programs in Iraq and ask your assistance in working with the Government of Iraq to reach a prompt solution”, the group said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday.
The letter’s author and the group’s president, Doug Brooks, said companies are having trouble driving in Iraq, and employees have been held at the airport in Baghdad over visas.
According to the report in the Washington Post, most if not all of those detained have been released, but the detentions, which last from hours to days, are hampering the work of Iraq-based American diplomats, who rely on contractors.
“The Government of Iraq has neither renewed 2011 visas nor issued new 2012 visas,” the group wrote in its letter to Clinton, adding, “Approved movements have been subject to stops, detentions, and confiscation of equipment without justification."
Brooks said the number of employees held in recent weeks is in the “low hundreds.”
“It’s completely hamstrung right now. No one can move. It’s been a nightmare,” Brooks said on Monday.