13 Pakistanis, including 8 children, die in fire in Jordan

1 / 3
A picture taken on December 2, 2019 shows the remains of a home where several Pakistani farmers were killed in a fire in the town of Shuna in Jordan, some 50 kilometres southwest of the capital Amman. Thirteen Pakistanis including eight children died. (AFP)
2 / 3
A picture taken on December 2, 2019 shows the remains of a home where several Pakistani farmers were killed in a fire in the town of Shuna in Jordan, some 50 kilometres southwest of the capital Amman. Thirteen Pakistanis including eight children died. (AFP)
3 / 3
A picture taken on December 2, 2019 shows the remains of a home where several Pakistani farmers were killed in a fire in the town of Shuna in Jordan, some 50 kilometres southwest of the capital Amman. Thirteen Pakistanis including eight children died. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

13 Pakistanis, including 8 children, die in fire in Jordan

  • Three other people were taken to hospital suffering from shock and burns
  • Thousands of foreign laborers live in tough conditions in private farms in the Jordan Valley

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Razzaz expressed sorrow over the death of 13 Pakistanis, including eight children, in a fire.

They had been living in agricultural structures in the Jordan Valley, and early reports indicate that the fire was caused by an electrical short.

Jordanian government spokesman Amjad Adaileh told Arab News that Razzaz has established a committee to look into the cause of the fire, and it “will include members of the Civil Defense and Interior Ministry.”

Adaileh tweeted: “Sincere condolences and sympathies to our Pakistani brothers who died as a result of this painful incident … and our prayers for a speedy recovery to the injured.”

Al-Mamlaka TV quoted Iyad Amro, spokesman for the Civil Defense Directorate, as saying the fire took place at 2:08 a.m. and eight children, four women and a man were killed.

Hadeel Abdel Aziz, executive director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid in Jordan, told Arab News: “The government continues to disregard clear evidence about the environment of workers and the need to regulate the labor market, especially in the agricultural sector, and to enhance regulation and protection for laborers in this sector.”

She said: “Ignoring the conditions of work for foreign workers, and treating it as unimportant because they’re non-Jordanian, is counterproductive and does more harm to the country.”

Labor Ministry official Bilal Al-Majali said a special set of bylaws will be introduced soon to deal with the working conditions of agriculture workers. 

He added that major amendments to the Labor Law are being worked on. 

“The changes will include the work environment and issues of the health and well-being of all workers, including foreign workers,” he told Arab News.

A spokeswoman for the Pakistani Embassy in Amman told Arab News that 15,000 Pakistanis live in Jordan.

She said the embassy has full faith in the investigative committee that Jordan’s government has established, and awaits its results.


Hundreds of employees fired from Turkey’s Incirlik air base

Updated 25 January 2020

Hundreds of employees fired from Turkey’s Incirlik air base

  • Incirlik Air Base is located in Turkey’s Adana province, near the Syrian border, and it has been a strategic element in ties between Ankara and Washington
  • It has also played a key role for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against Daesh in Syria and Iraq in the past

ANKARA: More than 420 people working at a crucial military air base in southern Turkey have lost their jobs, with some analysts considering it symbolic of decreased cooperation levels with the US and as the Pentagon reconsiders Middle East deployments.
Incirlik Air Base is located in Turkey’s Adana province, near the Syrian border, and it has been a strategic element in ties between Ankara and Washington. It has also played a key role for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against Daesh in Syria and Iraq in the past, as well as hosting US nuclear warheads.
The Colorado-based company Vectrus System Corporation, which provides day-to-day maintenance and operation services at the base, terminated the contracts of almost half of its employees at the base earlier this month.
“The base surged to support OIR,” Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Arab News. “The Turkey-based staff for OIR has mostly left. So, the base is going back to its pre-OIR level of people, and that level requires less contractor support.”
Vectrus did not reply to Arab News’ request for comment about its decision to scale back at the base.
Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said the move was largely symbolic as the canceled contracts related to logistical support rather than the US military mission.
“But obviously, it comes against the background of some tensions in the US-Turkish relationship and previous hints by Ankara that it might reconsider the status of the Incirlik base,” he told Arab News. “The Pentagon is reconsidering its deployment across the Middle East and it might be looking to become less dependent on Incirlik without fully exiting this crucial military air base.”
Incirlik air base has been used in the past as a bargaining chip at times of tension between the two countries.
“Turkey may re-evaluate the status of the Incirlik Air Base if the US imposes sanctions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last month in an interview with pro-government channel A-Haber, referring to the potential fallout from Turkey’s decision to buy an air defense system from Russia. 
Washington has threatened to use its Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act to punish Ankara for buying the S-400 system.
Seth J. Frantzman, who is executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said reports of the US reducing presence at Incirlik, or challenges to the US presence there, have been growing over the last years.
“Whether these reports relate to changes or are just random is unclear and it is important to note that the large interests of the military and history tend to mean the US does not simply walk away from bases, even if it reduces its role slowly over time,” he told Arab News.
The US has invested heavily in the Jordanian Muwaffaq Salti Air Base to expand its presence there.