Around 800 Myanmar Migrants Stranded in Jordan Without Work Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 29 June 2020

Yangon – Several hundred stranded migrants from Myanmar in Jordan say they are facing hardships after months without work, while flight suspensions mean they cannot return home.

They told The Irrawaddy on Monday that about 1,700 migrants worked at a Camel Textile International Cooperation garment factory in Karak to the east of the Dead Sea.

More than 800 of them are still stranded in the West Asian state.

The migrants have been told they do not need to compensate their employers for failing to finish their employment contracts because of COVID-19.

The factory has also provided the stranded migrants with accommodation and meals while they wait to return home, they said.

Ma Mar Mar Hlaing, 27, from Ayeyarwady Region said she and 17 other factory workers have been stranded for four months after their contracts finished. They were due to leave in March.

“I feel depressed since we have to spend our days in our rooms,” said Ma Mar Mar Hlaing.

Others say they have to pay for food because the meals provided are inedible.

About half of the 800 workers were forced to resign because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they said.

Ma Myat Myat Moe, 23, of Bago Region said she and many other women faced hardships after four months without work.

“I can’t send money back to my family. We have no money for medicine if we get sick so we do want to go back home quickly,” said Ma Myat Myat Moe.

They lacked cash to buy soap and other goods to ensure hygiene levels, she added.

Myanmar’s embassy in neighboring Israel has assisted migrants as there is no diplomatic mission in Jordon.

The embassy declined to comment to The Irrawaddy when contacted on June 29.

Myanmar’s ambassador to Israel, U Maung Maung Lin, told the media on Friday that there are four factories in Jordon that had employed more than 3,000 migrants from Myanmar.

He said labor issues for stranded migrants at the Camel Textile factory and other factories had been resolved despite COVID-19.

The ambassador said Myanmar is considering flying home its nationals in Jordon when it allows international flights to resume.

Elsewhere, approximately 250,000 nationals have been stranded in Malaysia because of COVID-19 lockdowns and crackdowns against illegal foreign workers, according to Myanmar’s labor attaché in Kuala Lumpur, U Aung Zaw Min.

Between May and June, eight undocumented migrants from Myanmar in Malaysia committed suicide amid intense hardship.

In response to the suicides, Myanmar says it is planning to fly home all undocumented workers from Malaysia.

As of Sunday, Myanmar has brought 5,827 nationals home from more than 10 countries including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry was unavailable for comment on Monday.

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