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Squatter City, 9 January 2009

The clock is ticking for squatters in Baghdad The UN news service IRIN reports that the government has set up a committee to set up “meetings between relevant government officials and the squatters to raise awareness and discuss the negative impact of squatting on government property.” Squatters are supposed to leave their dwellings within 60 days. If they move, they may qualify for cash payments, IRIN reports, that could run between $850 and $4,300.

Sounds great, no?

Well, not really. The Associated Press reported three months ago that an average apartment in one still-dangerous area of Baghdad costs $400 a month. Home prices have doubled in the past year. If that kind of inflation continues, the seemingly generous payments would not count for much.

Meanwhile, the AP article continues, “in the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices, there are plans for luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos.”

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