by David Phinney
Friday July 12th 2024

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‘Deplorable’ Conditions for US Contract Laborers in Iraq

Just cleaning up my notes and found this inspection of a labor camp for the US Army dining facility at Camp Marez. Dated February 2005, most of the people living there were low-wage workers from the Philippines and Turkey.
“Filthy” is the common word summarizing the housing where workers were kept under this multi-billion-dollar US contract held by KBR/Halliburton.
Even now, there are tens of thousands of such workers imported from around the world to work in Iraq for dollars a day in support of the US military. The hiring of local Iraqis has been slow in coming because contractors are terrified of terrorists and insurgents.

“It is of my professional opinion that there are too numerous of health and safety issues to list individually regarding these buildings where these workers currently reside,” notes the inspection. “The living conditions of these workers are deplorable and at least one of these buildings should possibly be condemned. In many areas of these buildings a strong smell of urine is overwhelming. It is important to note that these individuals that reside here appear to be clean in appearance and utilizing proper hygiene in spite of these conditions.”

Among the highlights:
“Vermin holes in walls”
The person who sent it to me says the workers for the Turkish subcontractor working for KBR were fairly evenly mixed between Turks and Filipinos, but that the Turkish management heavily discriminated against the Filipinos.
The verbatim inspection is after the jump.


01 February 05
Partial Inspection of H-4 DFAC Worker’s Living Area
This inspection was conducted by QAQC Inspector, Bobby Lee Johnson and Pamela Tibbs, Safety Coordinator. Also present was Serka Sub-Contractor Representatives, Hasan Kocahan and Murat Arikoglu. It should be noted that this inspection was conducted with the purpose of reviewing the living conditions of these workers.
It is of my professional opinion that there are too numerous of health and safety issues to list individually regarding these buildings where these workers currently reside. The living conditions of these workers are deplorable and at least one of these buildings should possibly be condemned. In many areas of these buildings a strong smell of urine is overwhelming. It is important to note that these individuals that reside here appear to be clean in appearance and utilizing proper hygiene in spite of these conditions.
It appears that the buildings are not grounded at all or not grounded properly in many cases. Between the buildings and lying on the ground are electrical cables and debris which is noticeable in many areas throughout the referenced area. This not only creates safety and health concerns but gives the area an overall unkempt appearance. The interior of these buildings in most cases are in worse conditions. Shower curtains are almost non-existent and the evidence of mold is rampant throughout these buildings. Smoke detectors are few and some that are present do not have batteries. All fire extinguishers have no tags attached however the ones that were located appeared to be properly charged.
Again, this inspection should be considered a partial inspection because many of the interior doors were locked and could not be entered and properly inspected. It is suspected that in many cases the ratio of workers to a bedroom/bathroom is unacceptable.
It is our understanding that these workers are scheduled to be relocated in the next few weeks to a different living area within the confines of H-4 Marez. A strong sence of urgency is recommended to act quickly on the relocation of these workers and/or repairs/ necessary safety issues addressed immediately. It should be obvious that our findings will reveal that in many cases repairs and renovations would not be economically feasible.
The following is a partial listing of discrepancies and non-compliance issues found and documented in our partial inspection of each of these building that are the domicile of these workers.
Dining Facility Lounge
Loose stepping stones at entrance creating a possible trip hazard
Electrical cord at entrance on the floor creating a possible trip hazard
No hot water available to the rear sink
Dining Facility Lounge (cont.)
Circuit board is missing a switch cover on one switch
Vermin crack in walls
All windows need re-caulking and not sealed properly
Hole in wall over door at east entrance
No tag on fire extinguisher
Loose electrical cable(s) on walls not securely mounted throughout facility
Rear/East Door not sealed properly with a large gap at the bottom
Note: There are electrical cable(s) hanging between the Dining Facility Lounge and Dormitory One as well as on the ground. Debris is scattered around the exterior of the building creating possible tripping and safety/vector hazards
Male Dormitory One
Exterior door missing glass window and open to the elements
There is only one exterior door that is not locked. Fire and/or emergency hazard
Overhead light(s) in hallway missing covers and some are broken and not working
Toilets leak as well as the shower heads and sink fixtures
Mold is evident
No light fixture cover at ceiling
New caulking is needed in the bathrooms as well as the bedrooms inspected
Vermin holes in exterior of building at top of exterior doors
Female Dormitory
Exterior door missing glass window and open to the elements
There is only one exterior door that is not locked. Fire and/or emergency hazard
One ceiling hall light not working
Ceiling light fixture is not secured properly
Bathrooms have leaking plumbing fixtures
Mold is evident
Electrical box at ceiling has no cover
Electrical wires are hanging from ceiling
New caulking is needed in the bathrooms as well as the bedrooms inspected
Vermin holes in exterior of building at top of exterior doors
Large Metal Container
(This was locked and we were advised that no persons lived in it and it was only used for storage.)
Male Dormitory Two
(Believed to be housed by ABC Sub-Contractor Workers)
Insufficient number of workable smoke detectors
Only one shower out of two is functional
Leaking plumbing fixtures at sink, shower and toilet
Filthy
Mold is evident
Strong odor of urine is present
Only one toilet is functional
Duck work in building leads to outside elements with no covers
Poor or very little floor drainage
Broken mirror(s) mounted on the wall(s)
Rain water enters at the floor on the east side of this building
A fire has occurred in this building and smoke damage is present
Caulking is needed throughout the building
HVAC unit is one of the rooms needs replacement
Vermin hole in west wall of one of the rooms at floor level covered with cardboard
Several loose ceiling light fixtures
Electrical wires hanging from the ceiling in several rooms
Male Dormitory Three
Electrical wires exposed at ceiling of west door
Bathroom is filthy
No ceiling light fixture
Shower curtain(s) if present are a health hazard
Mold is evident
Leaky plumbing fixtures
Loose ceiling light fixtures
Caulking is needed to throughout the building
Insufficient number of smoke detectors
Vermin holes in walls
Buildings Numbers Four – Nine
(The following is again only a partial listing of our findings)
Filthy
Mold is evident in bathrooms
Leaky plumbing fixtures
Insufficient number of smoke detectors
Loose Ceiling Fixtures
Caulking is needed throughout these buildings
Poor or little drainage in bathrooms
Loose ceiling light fixtures (many without covers)
Vermin holes in exterior walls
Some cracked or broken windows
Skilled Services Building
We were advised that only six people occupied and/or lived in this building. These individuals are alleged to be electricians, plumbers, generator repairmen, etc.
It is our opinion that there is evidence that more than six people live in this building. Most of the interior doors were locked or unable to be opened.
West side of exterior of this building is cluttered with debris and electrical wires
30 rooms with most locked and unable to enter and inspect
Circuit board does not shut properly and is not locked
One bathroom and is filthy with a strong odor of urine
Shower curtain is moldy and filthy
*Six sinks with one not functioning
*Six showers with only one functioning
*Six toilets with only one functioning
Floor tile is missing and the floor is wet with poor or limited drainage
Broken windows in some bedrooms
Caulking is needed throughout
Large hole in ceiling
Only two hall lights working
Insufficient number of smoke detectors
Missing covers for ceiling light fixtures
Skilled Services Building (Continued)
*It should be noted that these sinks, showers, and toilets are being used and functional but have leaky faucets and shower heads. There is water accumulated on the floor and the area is unsanitary. There does appear to be a strong odor of bleach in the air in a possible effort to sanitize this room.
It is an accurate statement that many of the listed items of concern are rampart throughout the compound. While all the health, safety and non-compliance issues listed in this inspection are accurate they are many still not noted in this report/inspection.
Bobby Lee Johnson
QA Inspector H-4 Marez

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