Surge Successful? Just Write of Plight of Underemployed Iraqi Undertakers

McClatchy Newspapers is taking a somewhat ghoulish, pessimistically-toned look at the poor souls who suffer from our success in Iraq: undertakers. That's right, with less people dying, business is slow for Iraqi undertakers, report Jay Price and Qasim Zein in their October 16 article (accessed via Yahoo News), "As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch.":

NAJAF, Iraq — At what's believed to be the world's largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and millions already have been, business isn't good.

A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that's cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds.


The burials aren't expensive, usually $200 or less, but many people draw their income from them.


The sights and smells of working with the bodies, particularly those torn by war, are hardly pleasant, but it becomes a mundane job like any other, said Jawad Abuseba, 40.

His family has dug graves for more than 300 years, he said. His hands are thick with calluses after 22 years of digging with a shovel, basket and pickaxe. With their nails torn and their skin gray, his hands look as though they're dead, too.

"There is nothing beautiful in this career, but I cannot do any another job," Abuseba said.

Shiites feel so strongly about being buried here that when it's too dangerous to travel, families have buried their loved ones elsewhere temporarily, then disinterred them for reburial here.

Even with less violence, many of those buried here are victims of the war, and the tragedy of each loss offers a counterpoint to workers' worries about money.


"Certainly, when the number of dead increases I feel happy, like all workers in the graveyard," said Basim Hameed , 30, a body washer. "This happiness comes from the increase in the amount of money we have."

This has got to take the cake for the strangest way a media outlet has found to find a downside to the success of our troops in Iraq.

Iraq Online Media Yahoo!