Iraq's Illegal Employment Agencies

Iraqis tend not to call Asian workers by their Asian names, because they find the pronunciation difficult. Instead, they give them Arabic names, some of them demeaning, reflecting the sect of the employer.

After the fall of Mosul in June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) captured 40 Indian workers, and details about the kidnapping operation remain unknown.

Yet, there were no negotiations to bring them back to their country and it seems the Indian government is not working on their release; they have been forgotten with the worsening developments in the country.

The Iraqi Labor and Social Affairs Ministry estimates the unregistered workers at nearly 150,000. They have illegally entered the country, with the employment agencies submitting forms to the Ministry of Interior to get these workers religious tourist visas, according to Ammar Muneam, the spokesman for the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry.

“The ministry has established 28 committees to prosecute the unregistered workers," Muneam told Al-Monitor. “Once caught, unregistered workers will be referred to the Labor Court, fined and expatriated at the Iraqi state’s expenses. The company that brought the workers will also be fined.”

Nevertheless, Muneam complained that “some agencies are not registered with the government. They bring foreign workers in an obscure way, including religious tourism.”

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