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Working in Iraq

The question

With the situation looking bleak for Ken Bigley, a civil engineer from Liverpool, fellow engineers in Iraq are understandably worried about their security. Under what circumstances would you go and work in Iraq?

I would not go to work there under any circumstances at the moment.

The events of the last few weeks have shown that all civilian personnel are at risk. In my opinion there is unfortunately no choice but for all companies to withdraw their staff from Iraq immediately. This is obviously a disaster for the civilian population and the work of rebuilding the country's infrastructure, but I see no way that this can be carried on without too great a risk for those involved.

Until control of some form, whether by the Iraqis or the Allied forces, is restored and the safety of engineers working there can be reasonably guaranteed, it is obviously a 'no-go' area for engineers and other relief workers.

Mike Paul, 51, senior engineer, Stuttgart, Germany I worked there with a Belgian contractor while the war with Iran was in progress and Saddam was certainly the vicious dictator (but then so is Mugabe). Our camp was close to a missile battery in Baghdad which was nice and safe because the Iranians couldn't really target that accurately meaning we were very unlikely to be hit! But I never felt personally unsafe, particularly with fundamentally friendly and likeable Iraqi people.

It's a bit different now of course but yes, I would go back.

However, despite the likeable people, a fascinating country, certainly interesting work, the key would be high rewards to compensate for the risk. I do really want to live to spend it!

Dudley Swain, 57, performance manager, Exeter I would not go under any circumstances. This is a shame because I enjoyed working in the Middle East earlier in my career, loving the extra responsibility, the work, the places we visited and making many friends among local managers, workers and their families. Becoming accepted took effort and was worth it. However, life and liberty is too precious to be taken away so needlessly.

Richard G Altoft, 54, managing director, Lincolnshire I would work in Iraq when it has been given back to the Iraqis and the Americans no longer control it either directly or at a distance. The Americans have made it too dangerous. And why can America not produce a list of the Iraqi women held to try to get their husbands to give themselves up?

Mike Dommett, 47, civil engineer, London The first questions that would need to be answered would be security and briefings along with health and other insurance issues. Money would need to be huge - probably in excess of £5,000 per day and tax free.

John D Brownlie, project director, Shrewsbury I would like Tony Blair and George Bush to go first to check the area out.

Lee Durnford, PFI adviser, London At present absolutely none, but at some stage we will need to help.

However stability needs to return, if not all over, then in selected areas, perhaps on site compounds associated with major infrastructure projects where perimeters can be secured.

Allan Howlett, principal project manager, London

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