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For months, they have sat here, half a block from the prime minister’s palace in the Green Zone, essentially captives with little food, drinking water or electricity.
Humble laborers, they had come to Baghdad in January from Eastern Europe and Asia seeking better wages.
They had the important sounding assignment of building a dozen villas to house heads of state for the annual meeting of the Arab League, which was scheduled to take place here.
But the project was halted in April for reasons that are unclear, and a month later, as the Arab Spring rolled on, the Arab League meeting was postponed until next year.
Now the workers — 27 Ukrainians (including a woman), 7 Bulgarians and 1 Nepalese — are marooned here, living in one of the world’s hottest and most inhospitable cities in an abandoned building next to the construction site and lacking the documents they need to leave the country.