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Majles Rep. Chupani: Unemployment, Lack of Investment Drive Poverty and Despair in Kurdistan

ILNA / Translation by ABC
February 21, 2017
Newspaper article

Expressing regret that Kurdistan’s rich resources remain untapped, Kurdistan’s Representative in the Provinces High Council said: “And in the meantime, families in this Province are being shattered due to unemployment and poverty.”

Alluding to Kurdistan Province’s problems in a conversation with ILNA’s reporter, Ahmad Chupani considered joblessness one of the most serious problems facing the Province and stated: “There are no precise statistics regarding the unemployment rate in the Province, but the truth is that in border provinces and provinces that are far from the country’s center, such as Sistan and Baluchestan, Ilam, Khuzestan, and Kurdistan, unemployment is rampant.”

Stating that there are no signs of progress and development of industries and production in Kurdistan, and that there are no factory owners and workers there, he continued: “For instance, in the town of Divandarreh, the rural population is larger than the urban population and the villagers are engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, in the traditional way not the modern, mechanized way; that is why people cannot make a living on [income derived from] agriculture.”

Alluding to trade markets in the regions of Baneh, Saghez, etc., he said: “These markets [grow] like mushrooms and the harm they do is greater than their benefits because they are dependent upon the border; and if the border is closed one day – which happens from time to time – those working there run into problems.”

Kurdistan’s Representative in the Provinces High Council emphasized: “There are no industrial jobs in the cities of Kurdistan Province, there are no factories. This in spite of the fact that Kurdistan is a rich province and the government could invest in those assets. For instance, Kurdistan provides water to neighboring provinces and the water from Kurdistan’s dams flow to West Azarbaijan, Zanjan, and Kermanshah [Provinces]. The government can invest on the Province’s water, something that has not been done so far.”

Kurdistan’s wealth remain untapped

Stating that Kurdistan Province is extremely rich in medical plants, agricultural and farm animal products, and cultural sites, he noted: “Up until now, however, no investments have been made on these God-given riches in such a way that would enable the Province to create jobs for its youth, whether boys or girls. That is why in towns like Baneh and Marivan, people have turned to porterage (hauling heavy goods on their backs) which, unfortunately, has not even been organized [and regulated] if only to prevent these porters' rights from being violated.”

This university professor emphasized that the Province’s riches remain untapped and said: “Our young and highly educated youth, who hold advanced degrees, are unemployed and are forced to either migrate to mega-cities like Tehran or turn to useless work.”

Noting the poor conditions of roads in Kurdistan Province, Chupani said: “One of the Province’s major issues is that its road system is in extremely sad shape and completely chaotic. We witness deaths on the roads on a daily basis. In addition, poor road conditions have an effect on unemployment. All of these issues show that we face privations in every single area.”


Special monetary aid to border residents teaches laziness

Stating he had no information regarding payment of border residency monetary aid to Kurdistan Province border residents, he added: “Payment of cash monetary aid is a major problem because borders should be used to [foster] economic and commercial [growth] and be used to create free trade zones. The act of paying a certain sum of money in the guise of border residency aid, simply teaches laziness and [contributes to] unemployment. Such an approach might be a temporary pain reliever but it will not have positive long term effects. Border regions can be used as free trade zones, and can be supervised in such a way that they are not subjected to abuse and misuse by influential people who [take advantage of the situation and] purchase land.”

People of Kurdistan’s representative alluded to the existence of various mines in the Province and said: “These mines are not in the hands of the indigenous people. At best they are employed as guards or lower echelon jobs. Those who own the shares and the concessions to exploit these mines are individuals from outside the Province. What is extracted from these mines is sold in its raw or crude state instead of being produced and manufactured to create employment in the Province as well as increase hope in life. Unfortunately, nothing has been done so far in this regard.”

Emphasizing that the goods carried by porters to the other side of the border are owned by individuals from outside the Province who live in mega-cities and enter the market with immense capital, and said: “[Using] porters in the 21st century is utter exploitation of human beings and it is the traffickers and the big shots who must be arrested [not the porters]; as the Supreme Leader has said, hauling as a porter is different than trafficking. Therefore, the big shots must be stopped so that they do not traffic in goods and do not create unemployment.”

Chupani noted: “Bureaucracy, administrative red tape, and lobbying have penetrated all areas and the practice of forming [Mafia style] factions has taken roots in Kurdistan’s mines and prevents the Province’s development.

Stating that the rate of divorce is on the increase in the Province and that it is unprecedented in the towns of Saghez and Sanandaj, Kurdistan’s Representative in the Provinces High Council stated: “One of the most important causes of this phenomenon is unemployment. Not a day goes by where a man or woman doesn’t go to the town council to get a divorce from his/her spouse in order to get separate [and higher] monetary aid.”


A 15-year-old commits suicide in Divandarreh

He added: “The gap between different social classes is enormous in the Province: One class is extremely rich and another class is extremely poor, and there is no middle class so that the lower class could at least hope to be able to reach middle class status. Families are therefore being shattered due to unemployment and poverty. Our university graduates also remain unemployed and cannot get married, and even if they do get married, it ends in divorce.”

Chupani stated: “I’m a teacher and I am a witness to the fact that the rate of single parent students due to divorce is frightening in schools and that the principals and the teachers don’t know what to do with these kids who usually suffer from psychological issues.”

Stating that the suicide alarm has been sounded in Kurdistan Province, this university professor emphasized: “There have been instances of suicide in Saghez and Divandarreh. About two weeks ago, in one of [the town of] Divandarreh’s shantytowns, a 15 year old boy committed suicide due to family issues. This young man lived on the outskirts of the town and his family could not afford to live in town; they were therefore forced to withstand the consequences of living in a slum.”

Emphasizing that the rate of addiction is on the rise in Kurdistan, he said: “There are many unauthorized hookah places in the alleys and alley ways of our towns and they host a very large number of adolescents and young adults. For instance, there are 13 unauthorized hookah places that are active in Divandarreh’s alleyways without any supervision whatsoever. These places are open past midnight and there are other things going there other than hookahs. One must ask: ‘What is the reason for the existence of so many unauthorized hookah places in the Province?’”

Chupani said: “Drugs are rampant on the outskirts of towns and a drug dealer’s income is higher than a book seller’s.”

Emphasizing that the Province’s riches are not few and that it should not be categorized as underprivileged, Kurdistan’s representative stated: “From a nature and tourism standpoint, my province is such that it can have the greatest incomes in the cultural and touristic realms; it would be great if jobs could be created for the young, educated, and ready to work generation. The government must invest on this Province’s wealth.”