Aid Freeze on Hamas Hurts Students in Jordan

The US and EU decision not to provide financial aid to Hamas-led government is having a damaging effect on thousands of Palestinian students in Jordan, according to Palestinian diplomats in Amman. Donors say they will only revive direct aid to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) if Hamas renounces violence, recognises the state of Israel and signs up to earlier peace agreements.

The financial crisis has depleted the PNA resources, leaving it unable to pay salaries to its employees. As a result, parents of about 6,000 Palestinian students studying in Jordan were unable to pay their childrenâ??s tuition fees. The majority of Palestinian students study in private universities while others have limited scholarships, meaning they have to pay for accommodation and other expenses.

An official source from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said the organisation does not cover Palestinian students from Gaza because they are not under its jurisdiction. Many of the students were forced to drop out and return to Gaza, others moved in with relatives while many more have been burdened with debts, according to Palestinian diplomats.

In a popular restaurant opposite Jordan University, Ahmad Abu Salma, from Khan Younis, sinks his teeth into a burger.

“Hundreds of Palestinian students go without food for days,” said the law student who comes from a middle class family like most Palestinian students in Jordan.

“I consider my self lucky because the owner of this restaurant is giving me food on credit and the landlord told me to pay later. Many others are not as lucky,” said Abu Salma,

“Why are we being punished for choosing who we want to lead us.”

Abu Salma said he considered dropping the semester after being unable to pay tuition fees, but a decision by Jordan’s King Abdullah to help the Palestinian students changed his mind. The king ordered the Ministry of Education to provide financial aid to all Palestinian students who were unable to pay university fees.

A senior official from the ministry of Higher Education said a letter will soon be sent to universities across the kingdom to grant Palestinian students a grace period until September before demanding tuition fees. [source]

I couldn’t quite fathom the number at first: 6,000 Palestinian students whose parents all work for the PNA? It seemed like a fairly large number and this is only for Jordan. Actually there are about 160,000 PNA employees.

In any case it’s strange to see the ripple effect of economic punishment. Perhaps back in February or March one could not see the actual consequences of the world freezing up its aid on Hamas simply because it was given legitimacy at the time but now the dominos are tumbling to a more far reaching effect that I personally did not see coming. Who would’ve thought a few months back that 6,000 Palestinian students in Jordanian universities wouldn’t be able to cover their tuition because their parents haven’t been paid yet.

Meanwhile, in the neighbourhood grocery stores of Palestine…

No payment of the PNA salaries for almost two months has left most of the families to live in dept to feed their families. Some of them sent their schoolboys to borrow their pocket money from the neighboring grocery.

…In a poll carried out by Maan News Agency last week, which included 4049 government employees, shows that 43.02% of the respondents rely on debts from the groceries and supermarkets to meet their basic needs while 16.3% borrow money from friends, 14.47% seeks help of the extended Family, 6.20% tries to find money from their partisan factions and 20.28% know no body to debt from.

Meanwhile, a number of PNA employee asserted that the Banks has adjourned some facilities provided to them including payroll credits, bank advances and credited loans, a thing boiling the Palestinian street against banks and keeping them under strict security measures in Rammalalh and Gaza by the security services. [source]

It’s kind of strange that a people should be starved in to submission. It sounds like the policies of tyrannts, but now? Here? In the 21st century? And why isn’t the Arab League helping out?

The Arab League has raised $71 million and wishes to deposit some NIS 2,000 directly into the bank account of each PNA worker, to enable the continued operation of vital services for another few weeks. However, the Arab Bank, which holds some 30,000 accounts of PNA workers, refrained from making the transfer after Washington warned bank heads that the US would see this move as assistance to Hamas. Other banks followed suit. [source]

Welcome to the new world order. Can you hear the dominos toppling?

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