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Sat 12 Nov 2005 04:00 AM

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Afghan construction army to head for UAE

10 000 are expected to work abroad to control unemployment and earn much-needed cash

Thousands of Afghan site workers are set to descend on the building sites of the Gulf, following plans to tackle chronic unemployment in the country.

The government of Afghanistan has decided to find 10 000 workers overseas jobs to control unemployment and earn desperately needed foreign exchange for the country.

It is understood that talks have been held between Afghan labour officials and their counterparts in the UAE and Kuwait.Afghanistan has an estimated workforce of about 8.5 million people, of which about 2.5 million are jobless.

Karim Nawabi, director of Middle East and Africa Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul, said that it was too early to reveal details of the plan. He said: “Afghan people are keen to find work in the Middle East.

“With regards to workers going to the UAE to work in the construction field, no formal proposal has been made to the UAE government as yet. “We cannot divulge any further information on the subject until things are clearer.”

Plans to formally recruit Afghan construction workers represents a new development in the UAE industry which is currently dominated by expat labour from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Tackling rising unemployment in the war battered country has become a top priority of the government. Last year the International Labour Organisation (ILO) drew up a plan to establish centres aimed at providing training opportunities for unqualified job seekers.

Widespread illiteracy, at over 70% of the population, is seen as a major cause of high unemployment in the country.

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