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Refugee influx pushes up demand on bread in north

By Omar Obeidat - Feb 15,2014 - Last updated at Feb 15,2014

AMMAN –– Bakeries in the Kingdom’s northern region are seeing shortages of subsidised flour due to the “huge” demand on bread caused by Syrian refugees, according to Abdul Ilah Hamawi, president of the Bakery Owners Association.

Hamawi told The Jordan Times that several bakeries in the north, particularly in the city of Mafraq, cannot meet the sharp increase in demand for bread as the region hosts thousands of Syrian refugees, for whom bread is the staple food.

He noted that the association has contacted the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply to increase subsidised flour allocation to these bakeries in order to meet the rising demand, adding that the ministry has “promised” to form a committee to look into the issue.

But the ministry’s spokesperson, Yanal Barmawi, said that the ministry has increased flour allocations to several bakeries in local communities that host large numbers of Syrian refugees, adding that authorities are always willing to reconsider flour allocations to such bakeries.

Hamawi noted that there are some bakeries that stopped making bread due to shortage of flour.

“Residents in some parts of Mafraq city –– around 70 kilometres northeast of Amman –– cannot find bread,” Hamawi claimed, warning that this issue could ignite social unrest in the area.

He noted that bakeries in Irbid also suffer from inadequate supplies of subsidised flour as the northern governorate hosts thousands of Syrians as well.

Bakeries across the Kingdom receive subsidised flour from the government at JD35 per tonne, while the real cost of the flour on the Treasury is estimated at JD350 per tonne, according to official figures.

Authorities also indicate that over 600,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan since the onset of the conflict in their country in March 2011, the majority of whom live in the Zaatari Refugee Camp.

Nearly 50 per cent of the refugees live in the northern part of the Kingdom, according to officials. 

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