UN warns Jordanians financially struggling after coronavirus lockdown
Many Jordanians are struggling to make ends meet after the government imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in the world due to the coronavirus epidemic, the UN has said.
Some businesses have re-opened after a nationwide lockdown was announced on 20 March, leading to a complete freeze on business activity in the country.
Jordan had already been rocked by economic challenges before the tough curfews were enacted, but the situation now for businesses looks even more grim, Sara Ferrer Olivella, resident representative of UNDP Jordan, told Reuters.
"Many businesses were not doing well even prior to the crisis, similarly many families have little savings left to cope with income losses due to lockdown measures," Olivella told the agency.
Jordan had already seen sluggish growth of around two percent before the lockdown began, according to the IMF, but now the WTO expects the kingdom's economy to shrink by 3.5 percent this year.
Although Jordan has managed to control the spread of the virus, the closure of businesses and job losses will affect all classes in the kingdom.
"This is worrying considering that the crisis is far from over. Many informal workers lost their livelihoods so it is very likely that we will see poverty rise," Ferrer Olivella said.
Unemployment is expected to rise by 19 percent this year while this figure could increase further with Jordan experiencing its first contraction since 1990.
A reduction in remittances from Jordanian workers in Gulf states could also have a negative impact.
A UNDP survey at the height of the lockdown said that two-thirds of Jordanian families had less than one week of financial resources, while more than three-quarters predicted the curfew would have a "long-lasting" impact.
Jordan's lockdown saw people confined to their homes and all businesses and trade shuttered.
Jordan has also been financially hit by turmoil in neighbouring countries such as Iraq and Syria, while the tourism industry was also hit following a series of attacks.