Jordan to ramp up repatriation of nationals

King Abdullah II, center, has been leading the Jordanian government in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. (Jordanian Royal Palace via AFP)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Jordan to ramp up repatriation of nationals

DUBAI: The Jordanian government will intensify efforts to repatriate nationals, some of whom have been living in tough conditions after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest group of about 80 nationals, who were evacuated from Lebanon, arrived Sunday at the Marka Military Airport in Amman.

The government and the Himmat Watan Fund, a national fund launched on March 31 to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingdom, will shoulder the travel costs of Jordanians unable to buy air tickets, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said in a report from state news agency Petra.

The country’s foreign affairs ministry has put in place criteria of who can take advantage of the free repatriation, the report added.

Razzaz also announced the expansion of support programs for public sector workers, who can now avail of interest-free advances of up to $283 to be repaid at retirement.

There will also be exemptions to private sector entities as well as individuals who owed unpaid amounts to the country’s social security system, the prime minister said.


Lebanon finds four bodies after deadly sea crossing

Updated 21 September 2020

Lebanon finds four bodies after deadly sea crossing

  • UN peacekeepers retrieved one body and rescued 36 people from a boat in trouble in international waters off the Lebanese coast
  • Families of the survivors said the boat had been adrift without food or water for around a week
BEIRUT: Lebanon has retrieved the bodies of four people including a child after they tried to flee the crisis-hit country by sea on an overloaded dinghy, the civil defense said Monday.
A week ago, UN peacekeepers retrieved one body and rescued 36 people from a boat in trouble in international waters off the Lebanese coast.
Families of the survivors said the boat had been adrift without food or water for around a week, during which time several passengers had died or jumped overboard to find help.
The bodies are presumed to be from the same ill-fated crossing.
Since Friday, “we have retrieved four bodies — belonging to two Lebanese, one of whom was a child, a young Indian man and a Syrian man,” Samir Yazbek, the head of the civil defense’s sea rescue unit, told AFP.
The bodies were found in four separate locations off the north and south coasts of the country, and the search was ongoing, he added.
The UN refugee agency said last week that 25 Syrians, eight Lebanese and three people of other nationalities had been rescued from the boat.
It is unclear how many men, women and children originally clambered aboard the dinghy, and therefore how many are still missing.
On Saturday, the navy said it would step up its searches within and outside Lebanon’s territorial waters to find any other victims.
Relatives of those who went missing from the impoverished north Lebanese city of Tripoli say the people smuggler involved in the crossing has dropped off the radar since the tragedy.
They have filed three legal complaints against the man, who they say is a well-known figure in the community.
A military source on Saturday said a person acting as an intermediary between passengers and the boat owner had been arrested.
In recent weeks, dozens of Lebanese and Syrians have tried to make the perilous sea journey from Lebanon to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, authorities on both sides say.
The Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member, lies just 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.
Lebanon is in the throes of its worst economic crisis in decades, compounded since February by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It is also reeling from a monster blast at Beirut’s port last month that killed more than 190 people, ravaged large parts of the capital and reignited public anger against the political class.