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Jordan Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

Peaceful protests pose the main threat to political stability, but the ongoing state of emergency due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and continued arrests of prominent activists limit the likelihood of destabilising mass demonstrations. Growing unemployment (19.3% first quarter 2020) is likely to trigger protests. Peaceful demonstrations are highly likely ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for 10 November involving up to thousands of people in Amman, Irbid, Ma'an, Zarqa, Salt, and other areas. Jordanian security forces are priority targets for jihadists and radicalised members in the security forces. Successful attacks using explosives to decrease public confidence in the state occur once to twice a year. A state of emergency was declared on 17 March, which has reduced the spread of the COVID-19 virus; however, a recent increase in infections (daily infection rate of 72 in early September compared with three in mid-July) will maintain curfews and result in recurring 24-hour lockdowns in response to new outbreaks. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the 2020 budget estimated that the budget deficit will be 6.4% of GDP, before grants, or USD1.7 billion and that capital spending will increase by 33% compared with 2019. This will likely be revised. Successful bond issue and official loans are positive developments, helping Jordan meet an expanded fiscal deficit, estimated to reach 5.2% of GDP in 2020 given lower revenue and higher COVID-19-related costs. However, Jordan remains persistently heavily reliant on official grants. Jordan is especially vulnerable to the pandemic due to its dependence on tourism, which accounted for 15% of GDP in 2019. Growing public-sector debt (almost 101.7% of GDP in the second quarter of 2020) makes the economy heavily reliant on continuing international donor inflows. The king is highly unlikely to jeopardise the peace treaty with Israel or vital bilateral trade agreements, particularly the deal to import Israeli gas.

Operational Outlook

The government concluded negotiations on 29 June for USD1.6 billion in foreign aid and soft loans in 2020. The financial assistance will in part support planned development projects in the general budget. Jordan's economic growth stimulus package with the World Bank for 2018–22 includes labour, transport, energy, and water sector reforms. Jordan and the IMF reached a four-year USD1.3-billion agreement in January 2020, aimed at improving the investment climate in Jordan, increasing employment, economic growth, and transparency, and reducing tax evasion and production costs. Corruption has increased with more private businesses represented in parliament after constitutional reforms in 2016.

Terrorism

Jordan remains a high-value aspirational target for Sunni jihadists, specifically security forces, tourist and Christian areas. Returning jihadists and radicalisation among low-level members of the security forces pose the biggest threats to security forces and tourist sites. The small number of incidents during the past five years underscores the high capabilities of the security services. The risk of terrorist attacks would increase in the unlikely event that the king approved the US's peace plan. Islamic State cells would exploit likely excessive force by the state against protesters to increase recruitment and attacks against state targets, notably security services.

Crime

The crime rate per 10,000 people was 25 in 2019, having decreased from a high of 44 per 10,000 in 2011 and 2012. The Public Security Directorate (PSD)'s Criminal Information Department stated that there were 26,521 crimes in total committed in 2019, an increase of 7.57% compared with 2018. Although crime in Jordan is relatively rare, levels of attempted murder, murder, aggravated assault, and kidnapping continued to increase in 2019. The largest increase was in premeditated murder, with 58 incidents in 2019 compared with 31 in 2018, an increase of 87.1%. Overall, crimes against property were the highest (69.6% of the total or 18,459 incidents), with misdemeanour theft the most frequent subcategory. This was followed by 'crimes against public administration' (9.1%) which predominantly included resisting and assaulting public employees. Nearly half of all crimes, 49.4%, were committed in the Capital region, including 53% of all crimes against property and 49% of all crimes against public administration. The lowest share of crimes was committed in the Desert region (3.8%), followed by the South region (7.5%).

The crime trajectory, supported by media reports, indicates that crime levels increased in the beginning of 2020, but have since decreased due to the quarantine and curfews imposed by the government to curtail the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus.

Areas surrounding Syrian refugee camps and close to the Syrian border, particularly poverty stricken towns like Zarqa and Irbid, are susceptible to weapons, human and sex trafficking, and the associated criminal activity. Criminality and abductions in these areas primarily affect Syrian refugees and Jordanians from poor districts as opposed to tourists, international NGO workers, affluent urban Jordanians, or cargo passing through those areas. Burglary and petty offences are common, particularly targeting expatriates and tourists. Pickpockets and con-artists commonly operate in the crowded streets of the old city of Amman. University campuses also historically see higher levels of crime, with violent disputes often reported during university election periods.

Sexual harassment also continues to be a problem, including stalking, indecent exposure, and unwanted physical contact. In the PSD's category 'felony crimes', the most frequent offensive in 2019, after criminal theft, was sexual abuse (1,013 incidents, or 13.8% of all felony crimes). In November 2018, The Jordanian National Commission for Women presented a study showing that 75.9% of Jordanian women were subject to some form of violence in their lives.

War Risks

The risk of war between Jordan and any of its neighbours is very low, including Israel. Jordan is unlikely to revoke the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Syria and Iraq are extremely unlikely to wage a war against Jordan as neither country has the intent or capability. Jordan's effective border forces make it unlikely that Islamic State militants fleeing Iraq and Syria will begin contesting Jordanian territory. Radicalisation and returning jihadists are more likely to result in limited acts of terrorism. Domestic armed conflict is unlikely to break out in the three-year outlook.

Social Stability

Activists will repeatedly protest peacefully against austerity measures, the US's Middle East peace proposal, relations with Israel, and for increased parliamentary powers in 2020. The national curfew will interrupt frequent protests, mainly held by Amman's Fourth Circle Roundabout. The King's firm lead in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is likely to increase public support to the monarchy. However, there is an increased risk of protests and public-sector strikes if the state of emergency remains in place beyond what is popularly perceived as necessary, if prominent activists are increasingly arrested, or if the state reacts too forcefully against protesters and the opposition.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age and for travelers who have been in transit in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission. 

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

It should be noted that Jordan is located in an active seismic zone. Minor earthquakes occur with moderate frequency. The last major earthquake to strike occurred in 1927.

Jordan also faces flooding on a regular basis, especially in northern areas. Dust storms can also occur, leading to decreased visibility and transportation disruptions.

Temperatures in summer months can be very high. Drink plenty of water and use high-sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen.

In winter, heavy snow can disrupt transportation, especially around Petra.

Transportation

Though travel conditions remain good in urban areas, road transportation presents a high risk for travelers in rural areas due to erratic driving habits and poorly maintained infrastructure. Road accidents are frequent.

It is advisable to travel with licensed taxis whenever possible. Use of public transportation is not advised due to generally unsafe conditions.

Police often carry out random security checks on the street and at checkpoints. Keep identification documents on hand at all times.

There is no railway system in Jordan.

Practical Information

Climate

Jordan's climate for the most part is semi-arid, although it is fully arid in the east of the country. Summers are hot and dry with scorching temperatures between May and September. Winters are cool, even cold, in certain areas; snow sometimes falls at higher elevations. The country receives most of its annual rainfall between November and February. Spring and autumn are mild and pleasant.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +962
Police: 191
Fire Dept.: 199
Ambulance: 199

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal