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Madaba youth threaten escalation on 59th day of unemployment protest

A group of young men protesting in Madaba demanding an end to unemployment. (Photo: Dana Al-Zyadat/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Eight young men held an open sit-in at Al-Salam Plaza in Madaba Governorate for the 59th day, demanding their right to employment. “We want jobs and a decent life. We didn’t know when we went to university that the fate awaiting us would be many years of unemployment and dependence on our families,” said the group’s spokesman, Abdulla Al-Rawahneh.اضافة اعلان

Rawahneh said the group of eight have nothing to lose, and if their demands are not met, “we will escalate things in unprecedented ways, and we may commit suicide”.

MP Abdul Raheem Al-Maayah told Jordan News that he approached the relevant authorities again but that negotiations had hit a “roadblock”, adding that it was unlikely that there would be a “drastic solution” to the problem. “(They) are our sons,” he said of the protesting youth, and that the possibility they might follow through with their threat was “deeply concerning”.

According to Maayah, previously, when made aware of the situation, Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh responded, stating that: “I am bound to the Civil Service Bureau and its law.”

Maayah added that the Civil Service Bureau system was “unfair” and stated that its law is “the worst in the country”.

However, the governor of Madaba, Nayef Al-Hidayat, reiterated Khasawneh’s sentiment. He emphasized that the matter was the Ministry of Labor’s responsibility and that the ministry “is aware of the problem, but the decision is up to the Civil Service Bureau”.

The protesting youth represent a large proportion of Jordan’s youth, especially in Madaba, where the unemployment rate reached 40 percent in 2021.

Maayah said that if the state is “unable to employ people, then it should create job opportunities by encouraging and facilitating investments.”

Hamza Obeidat, 29, is one of the youths participating in the protest. He holds a bachelor’s degree and trained in pastry making and got several bank loans to set up a business. However, when the pandemic hit, he had to stop working and was no longer able to pay back his loans, he told Jordan News.

“We rely on my deceased father’s pension, and there is no solution other than work or suicide,” he said.

Obeidat said the group would not stop their protest despite weather conditions. “We will not back away and will endure the weather conditions. We have been sleeping on the street hoping to regain our dignity.”

Nahla Momani, a facilitator at the National Center for Human Rights, said that the center constantly monitors sit-ins and that unemployment sit-ins frequently occur in Madaba.

According to Momani, the center has also recently addressed the authorities about the plight of the young men to provide them with employment as an exceptional case.

“It is an obligation for the state to steer the national economy and create jobs, especially in geographical areas that suffer lack of opportunities,” she said.

The spokesperson of the Civil Status Bureau was not available for comment.

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