Coronavirus: Jordan arrest two journalists over report

Jordan continues to enforce some of the strictest lockdown regulations worldwide to combat COVID-19.The Jordanian military recently arrested Fares Sayegh, Roya TV channel owner, and Mohammad al-Khalidi, its new director and presenter, over their COVID-19 coverage in Jordan. Sayegh and al-Khalidi will remain in custody for 14 days, as locals have reported. They were highlighting how Jordanians, due to the COVID-19 crisis and the current nationwide lockdown, were suffering financial difficulties and insecurities.

Although the Jordanian government has reported a relatively low number of confirmed cases and one death, the country in under one of the strictest nationwide lockdowns. Jordan imposed a 24 hour lockdown, where citizens were not allowed to leave their houses at all and bread and water was delivered to them. This has caused many Jordanians to loose their jobs. Jordan currently has national debt of $42.6 billion and is a cash-strapped country. When businesses and shops were asked to shut in mid-March many Jordanians, especially those relying on daily wages, were hit hard.

The report gave examples of women and men who have been left without any income and can no longer provide for their families. One man, who is a bus driver, said that he now has no money and therefore is left with no other choice than “begging, theft or drug trafficking“. Other stories emphasis how many families rely on daily income from their jobs in local shops and businesses.

These people are calling on the government to introduce schemes for Jordanians who have recently lost their jobs, so that they will be able to claim social benefits and provide for their families.  At the moment no such scheme is in place and these families have no means other than “to beg“. To make matter worse for those suffering financially, breaking curfew in hopes of obtaining food will put these people at even more risk. Breaking curfew is punished with imprisonment and fines.

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