Jordan condoles death of 13 Pakistanis lost in barn fire

A picture taken on December 2, 2019 shows the remains of a home where several Pakistani farmers were killed in a fire in the town of Shuna in Jordan, some 50 kilometres southwest of the capital Amman. (Photo by AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Jordan condoles death of 13 Pakistanis lost in barn fire

  • The deaths have led to calls for Jordanian government to review workers’ conditions and rights
  • PM Khan thanked Jordanian authorities for their help and cooperation

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Razzaz expressed his condolences over the death of 13 Pakistanis lost in a barn fire Monday.
The fire broke out at 2.08 a.m. (local time) claiming the lives of eight children, four women and a man, Al-Mamlaka TV quoted Iyad Amro, spokesman for the Civil Defense Directorate, as saying.
The deceased had been living in the agricultural structures in Jordan Valley, and early reports indicate that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.
PM Razzaz has established a committee comprising members of civil defense and interior ministry to look into the cause of the fire, Jordanian government spokesman Amjad Adaileh told Arab News.
“Sincere condolences and sympathies to our Pakistani brothers who died as a result of this painful incident … and our prayers for a speedy recovery to the injured,” Adaileh tweeted.
Hadeel Abdel Aziz, executive director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid in Jordan, told Arab News: “The government continues to disregard clear evidence about the environment of workers and the need to regulate the labor market, especially in the agricultural sector, and to enhance regulation and protection for laborers in this sector.”
“Ignoring the conditions of work for foreign workers, and treating it as unimportant because they’re non-Jordanian, is counterproductive and does more harm to the country,” she said.
Labor Ministry official Bilal Al-Majali said that special set of bylaws will be introduced soon to deal with the working conditions of agriculture workers. He added that major amendments to the Labor Law were currently under works.
“The changes will include the work environment and issues of the health and wellbeing of all workers, including foreign workers,” he told Arab News.
A spokeswoman for the Pakistani Embassy in Amman confirmed that 15,000 Pakistanis live in Jordan. She said the embassy has full faith in the investigative committee that Jordan’s government has established, and awaits its results.
Earlier Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in Islamabad said in a statement that the victims belonged to the Joya family from Dadu district in Sindh province. The head of the family, Ali Sher Joya, survived the incident. “The family reportedly migrated from Pakistan to Jordan in the 1970s and was associated with the farming profession.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan has also expressed his condolences to the family of the victims. He also thanked the Jordanian authorities for their help and cooperation, the premier’s office said in a statement Monday evening.
The Pakistani Embassy in Amman is in touch with the victims’ relatives in Jordan.
“The ambassador and other senior officials are with the family to provide any urgent assistance. The Jordanian authorities are also extending full cooperation,” the statement said.


How a newborn was taken from Lebanese mother and lost in Istanbul hospital

Updated 20 September 2020

How a newborn was taken from Lebanese mother and lost in Istanbul hospital

  • Distraught mother demands answers after baby boy disappears in Istanbul hospital
  • A woman who was giving birth in the next room told the couple the baby was still alive when hospital administration said he was dead

BEIRUT: It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – a newborn baby taken from his mother’s arms and lost, and yet that’s what happened to a young Lebanese couple moments after the birth of their son in an Istanbul hospital.

Mohammed Salim, 27, and Jana Al-Qawzi, 23, had just welcomed their newborn baby boy into the world when staff took him from his mother’s arms – he has not been seen since.

Four months ago the couple had moved to Turkey in the hope of a new and better life, but instead are now in a desperate search for answers over the disappearance of their son.
They say the hospital authorities have failed to give them a convincing explanation of the fate of their baby, who was taken from his mother’s arms moments after being born and vanished.
Jana’s mother, Nada Al-Qawzi, who works at the American University of Beirut, said “her daughter is devastated and inconsolable.”
She told Arab News: “Jana wanted to offer her unborn child a shot at a better life, so she decided to leave Lebanon, knowing that Mohammed owned a hardware store and Jana was an employee at a private hospital in Beirut.
“In Istanbul, they both found work and her pregnancy was normal. However, in the sixth month of pregnancy, doctors told my daughter that the baby’s heartbeats were slowing. A month later, Jana complained of abdominal pain and her doctor told her she should give birth immediately.
“That is when Jana and Mohammed’s tragedy began.”

Jana said that she cannot escape the nightmare she has been living in since July.
“My tears have dried, but I am on painkillers,” she said.
The couple’s residence permit in Turkey has expired, but Jana is refusing to leave without knowing the fate of her newborn in the Okmeydani hospital in Istanbul.
As a non-Turkish citizen, Jana had to pay the hospital 4,000 Turkish liras ($528) on July 5. But when she checked with the local authorities, they made the hospital admit her for free.
In the hospital, Jana was left alone in the delivery room after labor was induced. Her husband was not allowed to stay with her because other women were giving birth nearby.
Jana’s mother said that when her daughter gave birth, she was shocked that the baby was “so little and kind of blue-ish.”
As soon as he heard Jana’s screams, a doctor came and took the newborn away. Jana was not allowed to use her phone to take pictures of the infant.
Moments later, medical staff came back to tell her that the baby had died. Jana called Mohammed, who was waiting outside, and said she heard him wailing.
Ever since that moment, she said, the couple’s life had become hell.
The couple still do not know the fate of their newborn. A woman who was giving birth in the next room told Jana that her baby was still alive, while the hospital administration told Jana that he was dead.
When the couple asked for the baby’s body to be returned, they were given contradictory answers. No trace of the newborn was found in the hospital’s records and the only name found was Jana’s.
One doctor wrote down in a medical report that the baby was born alive but died after being placed in intensive care, while another claimed that the baby died during birth and the body removed by a nurse.
The couple hired a lawyer and Jana’s mother asked a human rights organization in Beirut to investigate and provide psychological help for her daughter.
Turkish authorities also launched an investigation, but that was very slow, according to the lawyer, who advised the couple to go to the Turkish media to raise the issue.
Jana’s mother said the Lebanese embassy in Turkey contacted the couple and Turkish authorities. It told the couple that investigations have been extended to three nurses and that the manager of the hospital morgue “went off the grid after shutting down his cell phone.”
Two months after the incident, Jana is yet to discover the fate of her baby, while local authorities are pressuring Jana and her husband to leave the country.
However, the couple say they will stay on, even if it is illegal, until they know the truth.
Mohammed has lost his job and, according to Jana’s mother, Jana is working as a babysitter, hoping to get a new residence permit.
“They want to know the truth before coming back to Lebanon,” she said.
The couple have named their lost son Mohammed.
Jana’s mother said: “We want this case to reach the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We have documents, but they are inconsistent with the course of the incidents. My daughter has made peace with the death of her newborn, but she will not rest without knowing his fate.”
Many theories have been put forward about the incident, but Jana refuses to believe any of the claims.
Is it possible that the baby was used for the illegal trade in human organs? More than 1,500 babies are believed to have disappeared in mysterious circumstances in Turkey.
“I do not want to think about this possibility because it is killing me,” said Jana.  
Lebanese lawyer Paul Morcos has raised questions about the Turkish hospital’s handling of the case, asking why it refused to receive fees from the couple or give them hospital bills.
He has also highlighted the hospital’s contradictory information and the “disappearance” of the person in charge of the morgue.
“We want to know what happened, and we want to retrieve the body to be able to exclude the possibility of an organized crime,” he said.