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Learning English - Words in the News
06 June, 2005 - Published 14:10 GMT
Higher salaries for Iraqi professionals
Patient in hospital

The Iraqi government says it's going to double the salaries of university professors as part of a bid to stem the brain drain in the country. Doctors, teachers and businessmen have all been leaving Iraq because they don't feel safe. This report from Caroline Hawley:

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Under Saddam Hussein around four million people are thought to have left Iraq, among them some of the country's most qualified professionals. Just after the war some exiles did return but more than two years on the country's brain drain, far from being reversed, is continuing, at a rate that's alarming many Iraqis.

University teachers will now see their salaries doubled to try to keep them in the country but the problem isn't confined to the campus. Doctors are fleeing too with worrying consequences for a health service already struggling with shortages of equipment and with the number of casualties they're treating.

Iraq's medical union believes that over the past two years around three hundred doctors have either been kidnapped or had a member of their family abducted for ransom. Others have received death threats and dozens of university professors have also been killed. A senior government official told the BBC he believed Iraqi professionals were being systematically targeted.

Caroline Hawley, BBC, Baghdad

Listen to the words

people who have left or been forced to leave their country, especially for political reasons

brain drain
a movement of large numbers of highly-skilled or professional people from the country where they were trained to another country where they can earn more money

put back to the way it was before

confined to
restricted to

escaping; going away

people hurt or killed in an accident or a battle

taken away by force; kidnapped

a sum of money paid to free a person being held illegally

identified somebody as an object of an attack

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