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No decision taken to allocate new cemetery in Johfiyeh town

By Omar Obeidat - Apr 15,2015 - Last updated at Apr 15,2015

AMMAN — Residents of the small northern town of Johfiyeh may have to wait for months until they find space to bury their dead, according to government and municipal officials.

Last week, several residents of the town, where nearly 4,000 people live, complained that the cemetery ran out of space for burials more than a year ago, and that since then they have been calling on authorities to buy or allocate land for new graves. 

Johfiyeh, which is some 80 kilometres north of Amman and about 7.5km southwest of Irbid city, is part of Al Mazar Al Jadid Municipality.

Residents were hoping that a meeting between municipality officials, the district governor and officials from the Irbid Awqaf Department –– which owns land near the old cemetery –– would come up with a solution to secure a plot of land for a new graveyard, according to Ahmad Talafha. 

But Mahmoud Hourani, mayor of Al Mazar Al Jadid, said the meeting did not yield any good news for residents as officials said the municipality has to buy a new plot of land and the awqaf department has refused to donate the land it owns near the town’s main mosque. 

“The awqaf department is refusing to cooperate with us,” Hourani charged. 

But Khaled Shorman from Irbid’s awqaf department said it has never refused to allocate the land but any decision in this regard needs to be studied. 

He said the Awqaf Ministry recently formed a committee to study the issue, and the panel, of which he is a member, has not visited Johfiyeh, noting that any decision to check the location has to come from the ministry.

“The land the residents and the mayor are talking about is part of the mosque estate and it would be hard to allocate it as a cemetery,” Shorman said, adding that it is the responsibility of the municipality to secure land for a new graveyard. 

Asked how long it would take to resolve the issue, Shorman said measures may take months. 

Residents say they find human bones when they dig new graves in the overcrowded cemetery.

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