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Gazans bemoan ‘unfair’ hike in passport fees

By Dana Al Emam - Feb 20,2017 - Last updated at Feb 20,2017

According to official figures, there are around 1 million holders of temporary passports in Jordan (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — Gazans with temporary two-year Jordanian passports on Monday said the recent hike of fees to issue passports from JD25 to JD200 was “excessive” and “unfair”.

The decision requires Gazan holders of temporary passports to pay JD200 for issuing a passport and JD200 for renewing the passport’s validity every two years. Similar dues must be paid when the passport is expired, damaged or lost for the first time.

Meanwhile, the government’s recent economic measures increased fees to issue the five-year passports for citizens from JD20 to JD50.

Ad-Dustour daily columnist Maher Abu Tair wrote on his Facebook account that the annual validity of Gazans’ temporary passports costs JD100. When the passport’s validity is compared to the five years of Jordanians’ passports, Gazans pay JD500 to renew their passports over a five-year period.

This figure is 10 times greater than the amount paid by citizens over the same period, an issue he described as “painful”, especially that many Gazans in Jordan suffer great economic hardships.

He described the dues as “the highest in the world”.

He added that holders of five-year temporary passports from the West Bank and Jerusalem have to pay JD200, which is still four times higher than the fees citizens pay.

These hikes do not reflect Jordan’s support to the Palestinian issue, he said.   

Jamal Absi, a Gazan holder of a temporary passport, said Gazans in Jordan understand the economic difficulties facing the state budget and the need to raise fees, but the problem is in the percentage of the raise.

He added that doubling or even tripling the previous fees would not have been a big problem, adding that many Gazan families living in Jordan consist of over five members.

“It costs a fortune to issue and renew passports for all family members,” said Absi, who lives in Jerash, 48km north of Amman, and works at a grocery shop.  

He told The Jordan Times that his family has been living in Jordan since 1967. “Is that not that long enough to become a citizen, or at least be treated equal to citizens?” he asked. 

Wafaa Sabbah, another Gazan facing the same problem, said the decision “rubbed salt into the wound”.

The mother of four is married to another Gazan holder of a temporary passport.

“Gazans are generally required to pay higher fees for issuing documents or getting services,” the housewife told The Jordan Times, adding that her husband is a taxi driver who barely makes ends meet. 

Odeh Abu Sousain took his complaint to Facebook, describing the move as an act of “discrimination” against Gazans who took refuge in Jordan decades ago.

He criticised the government’s “wary eye” that views Gazans with suspicion, although they have become part of the social fabric over the past decades.

Faraj Shalhoub also posted that the majority of this segment of society suffer difficult financial conditions, in light of restrictions on getting into public universities and enrolment in public office.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Sarhan suggested that top representatives of Gazans affected by the decision are to meet with officials to discuss the issue.

 

In Jordan there are around 1 million holders of temporary passports, 150,000 of whom are Gazans and the rest are Palestinians who do not have a national number after Jordan’s disengagement from the West Bank in 1989, according to official figures.

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