Jordan announces compulsory military service for jobless men as unemployment surges

Men between the ages of 25 and 29 who are in good health and lack jobs may be called for military service.

al-monitor Jordanian soldiers keep watch on March 18, 2020, in the capital Amman as Jordan takes measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Photo by KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images).

Sep 10, 2020

Jordan is rolling out compulsory military service for men between the ages of 25 and 29, as the desert kingdom struggles with rampant unemployment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the new scheme, the men will serve for 12 months. Three months will involve military training, and the other nine will be devoted to professional and technical training in the private sector, Labor Minister Nidal Bataineh said during a press conference Wednesday.

Five-thousand jobless men will be conscripted this year and 15,000 in 2021. Each will receive a monthly payment of JD100 ($141).

"Our youth and our human resources are our most precious assets," Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said, according to The Jordan Times. "We will not stand idly by in the face of rising unemployment rates, a global phenomenon in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic."

After imposing one the world’s harshest lockdowns in March, the pandemic has taken a toll on Jordan's economy. The unemployment rate soared to 23% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 3.8% during the same time last year.

Coronavirus travel restrictions have also dealt a blow to Jordan’s tourism industry, prompting the government to resume international flights this week out of the Queen Alia International Airport outside of Amman.

In terms of coronavirus infections, Jordan has fared better than most countries in the region. Health authorities have registered 2,739 cases and 17 deaths among the population of some 10 million.

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