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Having fled fighting, Iraqis and Syrians learn to code

Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 01:54

A boot camp in Iraq is teaching people displaced by fighting in Syrian and Iraqi cities controlled by Islamic State how to code, in order to help them get jobs they can do anywhere. Emily Wither reports from Erbil.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS STORY REPLACES EARLIER VERSION TO REFLECT DEVELOPMENTS IN STORY In this residential house in Erbil, Northern Iraq Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis are learning how to code At this pilot bootcamp funded by the UN, students are battling against the odds to be the program's first graduates. The people here might be highly educated but they haven't been able to get jobs and this is a problem for thousands of people across the region displaced by wars in Iraq and Syria. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOORY AL-AAMED, STUDENT AT RE:CODED, SAYING: "I studied computer engineering at the University of Damascus I was in my fourth class but unfortunately I couldn't complete my studying because of the war." Re:coded hopes to give opportunities to people stuck in sprawling refugee camps - teaching them how to build websites - so they can freelance for clients around the world. One of the teachers here, Gabe Jackson, went through the same training in New York to become a developer. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GABE JACKSON, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT TRAINER RE:CODED, SAYING: "You need is a computer and an internet connection and not even a constant connection, just intermittent right, you can get an assignment, be off-line work on it, get online again push your code to your client and that's it, you can do it from anywhere." The idea is to empower rather than hand out aid. But project organizers say they've learned that bringing education and meaningful employment to displaced people is an arduous task. Facing spiraling costs, lack of resources and the struggle to retain students. Some have had to drop out of the intense training because they've needed to find part-time work to support their families. Students that remain will all soon speak the universal language of code. The danger is that bugs in the system could make it hard for others to follow in their footsteps.

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Having fled fighting, Iraqis and Syrians learn to code

Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 01:54