How is life in Iraq

Life in Iraq is extremely complicated. It is not only the mood between the Kurds in the north and the central government in southern Baghdad that is tense after the latest Kurdish referendum on independence. Militias of different denominations and parties are still fighting each other across the country. The Bundeswehr stationed in Erbil is also watching with concern radical Shiite fighters who are financed by Iran and are currently taking brutal revenge on Sunnis. Yazidis who previously fled ISIS now fear them.

For years people have lived in huge tent cities who do not see any prospects in their homeland at the moment. The Syrians, who fled to Iraq in 2012, have now replaced the tarpaulin with cement. Your refugee camp resembles a small town with a shopping mile, vendors sell cell phones, bicycles and wedding cakes. The Iraqi state is not responsible for the infrastructure here, but aid organizations from all over the world. The Federal Development Ministry, for example, financed the construction of a sewage treatment plant, and aid money is flowing into playgrounds or greenhouses for cucumbers.

The newer camps near Dohuk are not only home to Yazidis, whose people were systematically murdered and enslaved by IS militias. There are also people who, out of sheer financial difficulties, have decided against an apartment in the city and for a life in the camp. Such is the case with Nejma Suleyman Hassan's family. After she fled the IS-occupied area with her children and grandchildren, the family went to Erbil. But none of them found a job in the Kurdish capital. That is why they moved to the refugee camp a year ago. In front of the entrance of your tent there is a wooden cupboard to dry in the sun. It rained the day before, the water is still on the concrete floor today. The refrigerator broke, that's the worst, says Suleyman Hassan. She couldn't afford a new device. In the camp, each family member only gets the equivalent of $ 15 a month.

Müller has created a total of 35,000 jobs in Iraq since 2016

Gerd Müller, who is handing out soccer balls to the children outside, finances temporary jobs for refugees in this camp. On average, men and women are allowed to work here for the German Society for International Cooperation for an average of one month. Usually, however, a family only benefits once from such a short German job, says the camp manager. Because the positions are in great demand, there is a waiting list. Müller has created a total of 35,000 jobs in Iraq since 2016 and 26,000 people live in these camps alone. How should that be enough for a perspective? "This is a start to get out of the mess," says Müller: "Then a follow-up job can come if a qualification grows from it. In Germany the employment agencies offer similar measures."

In any case, the German job center seems to be a role model for Müller. He is currently setting up counseling centers in eleven countries to help returnees from Germany and people who have not yet left to find work. In Iraq he opens the first center in an industrial park in Erbil. "German Center for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration" is written there on a sign. As soon as Müller got off the plane on Sunday, Kurdish journalists were jostling at the tarmac. The television broadcasts the landing live, as well as his speech. The opening of a German migration center is big news here, says Hadi Salimi, reporter for the Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw: "Many Kurds have problems here and want to go to Germany." The center promises easier entry. And what about the word "reintegration" on the sign, with the return? "I don't know the details," says Salimi.

The SPD development politician Gabi Weber criticizes the planned "short-term training activities". She thinks it would be better to offer the people in Germany proper training that will then be of use to them in Iraq. Local aid organizations are also observing Müller's plans with skepticism. "Training alone is not enough if there are no jobs," says Sylke Martens from Welthungerhilfe. Iraq has other problems as well.

But only two hours by car from the migration center, in Mosul, where UN specialists collect thousands of booby traps from the houses, where the shops between the ruins sell shovels, Gerd Müller forgot the returnees for a moment.