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Unemployed Maan residents bring protests to Amman

By Taylor Luck - Apr 14,2014 - Last updated at Apr 14,2014

AMMAN — Dozens of unemployed Maan residents brought their two-year-old protest movement to Amman on Monday, demanding that the government end their search for jobs opportunities.

Over 60 jobless residents of the southern city made the 200-kilometre trip to the capital to protest in front of Parliament against what they called the government’s “failure” to live up to promises to create employment opportunities for area residents.

During the one-hour rally, participants chanted “Employment is our legal right” and “Bread, freedom, we demand social justice.”

Protesters also called for expanding the scope of vocational training programmes to encourage private and public sector hiring in the governorate, where unemployment hovers around 20 per cent, nearly double the 11.8 per cent national average. 

According to Rashad Al Khatab, head of the so-called Maan unemployed committee, Monday’s rally was the “first step” in a new strategy to draw greater attention to their cause after holding near-daily protests in the southern city for over the past two years.

“The Kingdom’s largest resources such as phosphate and cement are all located near Maan, yet the people are not benefiting from this,” Khatab said. 

“If the government believes we will go away quietly it is very wrong.”

According to activists and officials, successive governments promised to secure jobs for over 300 area residents who had either graduated from public universities or were laid off by recently privatised industries in 2012 and 2013.

As of Monday, 50 of the original 300 had been secured employment, while activists claim that the total number of jobless Maanis who joined their cause has since eclipsed 500.

Maan residents said they will continue their protests at various sites across the capital.

Over one quarter, some 26.6 per cent, of Maanis currently live below the poverty line, according to various studies by public universities and the Department of Statistics.

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