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MPs want substantial int’l support for Jordan in refugee crisis

By Raed Omari , Petra - Mar 31,2015 - Last updated at Mar 31,2015

AMMAN — Deputies on Tuesday urged donor countries to provide “actual” support and assistance to Jordan, which is hosting around 1.5 million Syrians.

During an evening Lower House session, MP Bassam Manasir (Balqa, 1st District) said if donor countries do not come through for the Kingdom, the House should work to close the border to refugees.

Manasir said the country is facing grave challenges in the economy, security, education and healthcare due to the large number of refugees, as the international community remains silent, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

MP Assaf Shobaki (Amman, 4th District) said the Lower House is duty bound to support the state and pressure donor countries to honour their commitments towards Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The Kingdom’s open-border policy has taken its toll on citizens’ lives, Shobaki added.

Also during the evening session, Deputy Atef Qaawar (Amman, 3rd District) urged the government to secure the safe return of Jordanians in Yemen, who number around 600.

Earlier, the Lower House passed the 2015 draft amendments to the Jordan Medical Association (JMA) Law, extending the term of the syndicate’s council to three years instead of two.

The “hasty” endorsement of the draft amendments by the Legal Committee and then during Tuesday’s morning and afternoon full House sessions was received with dismay by some MPs who accused unnamed parties of exercising pressure on the panel to pass the bill.

The head of the committee, MP Mustafa Amawi, rejected the accusations, saying that the law had been at the House since September last year and that his colleagues have worked with “complete independence and under no influence from outside parties”.

The controversy centred around the panel’s amendments to Articles 1 and 27 of the law related to when the bill goes into effect and to the duration of the JMA council’s term.

Under the panel’s amendments, which were endorsed by a majority of lawmakers, the JMA Law goes into effect on the day it is published in the Official Gazette while the term of the syndicate’s council was extended to three years instead of two as in the original version.

Some MPs charged that the panel’s amendments were intentionally meant to keep the current JMA council one more year in office, assuming that the Senate would pass the law before April 24 — the date for JMA elections.

If passed by senators before April 24, the JMA elections will be cancelled automatically.

The House also decided to postpone until next Sunday the discussion of the worsening financial situation of the print media and the “deteriorating” services of the Greater Amman Municipality.

The Chamber was scheduled to hold a special session on Wednesday to discuss the financial woes of the country’s major newspapers and GAM’s services upon a request by a group of lawmakers.

The House also endorsed the 2014 Sharia Courts Law and the Arabic Language Academy Law as referred from the Senate.

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