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‘Indonesian ban on sending workers to Jordan a blow to recruitment agencies’

By Dana Al Emam - May 06,2015 - Last updated at May 06,2015

AMMAN — The Indonesian government’s recent decision to ban its citizens from working in several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, will have a negative impact on the sector, an insider said Wednesday.

Khaled Hseinat, president of the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association (DHRAA), said a delegation from Jordan visited Indonesia four months ago to discuss reopening the local market for Indonesian domestic helpers.

“The decision was a shock, as discussions to resume cooperation were under way,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone, adding that Jakarta did not inform Amman of its intention to prohibit citizens from working in the Kingdom.

Hseinat cited the validity of a five-year-agreement on recruitment of domestic helpers between the governments of the two countries, which is automatically updated and is subject to amendments.

He added that Indonesian officials requested opening an office of their country’s workers’ association in Amman, which DHRAA complied with after the approval of the governments of the two countries.

“We would not have paid for setting up the office if we foresaw the ban,” Hseinat said, adding that Indonesian officials have always described Jordan as the best country regarding regulations governing guest workers.

Indonesia stopped sending workers to Jordan around four years ago “due to organisational purposes that were to last for two months as they claimed at the time”, according to Hseinat.

Since then, recruitment agencies have “hundreds of thousands of dinars” suspended in Indonesia. 

“We urge officials to allow us to get visas for two to six months to travel to Indonesia and start collecting our money,” he said.

Hseinat said the decision will not affect Jordan’s reputation as a host country for guest workers, expressing hope that Indonesian officials will rescind their decision and resume negotiations.

According to the Indonesian news agency, Antara, the South East Asian country’s decision to stop sending workers to 21 countries in the region aims to “protect” its citizens, who mainly work as domestic helpers.

Antara quoted Indonesian Minister of Manpower Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri as saying that rights of workers in the Middle East are “violated”, and that such work conditions “degrade human values and the dignity of the nation”.

The decision was triggered by the recent execution of two Indonesian migrant workers, Siti Zaenab and Karni, in Saudi Arabia, the news agency said. 

Indonesian workers will no longer be sent to Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Jordan.

Indonesian guest workers in the Kingdom numbered up to 50,000 in the past, but the figure currently stands at around 4,000, according to Hseinat.

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