The Excitement of Daily Life in Baghdad

AKA, Russian Roulette …

Iraqi workers risk death for $10 a day

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Said Rifai
Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Workers know a trip to the square could mean death, and still they go.

Every day, laborers crowd downtown Tayaran Square, the scene of nine bombings in the past three years, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry. But with unemployment as high as 60 percent, the Iraq Study Group said, men survive on the jobs they find here — jobs that pay an average $10 a day.

They faced their latest challenge Tuesday when attackers staged a suicide attack that left at least 76 people dead and more than 200 injured, the Interior Ministry reported. The nation’s leaders condemned the attack and promised to investigate, but workers complain that the government offers little relief from a cycle of poverty and violence that is pushing them toward extremism.

Ali Naji, 32, avoided the square as long as he could. He returned Tuesday because he desperately needed the money. One of the car bombs exploded as he watched a group of fellow laborers eating breakfast.

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