Jordan eager for Libya to pay bills
18 June 2012, 13:24
Amman - After the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi's
regime in Libya's conflict, tens of thousands of Libyans were flown for
hospital treatment in Jordan. Now the cash-strapped kingdom is desperate
for their bills to be paid.
Jordan, which touts itself as a top
destination in the Arab world for medical care, is demanding that
Tripoli pay up more than $200m in medical and hotel bills.
total is a sizeable amount for a country grappling with rising fuel and
electricity prices, little or no natural resources and a huge external
debt that could reach $24.6bn by the end of this year.
out of Jordan's 60 private hospitals treated more than 55 000 Libyans
in the past six months. I think many other countries would have failed
to meet such a challenge," Fawzi Hammuri, head of Jordan's Private
Hospitals Association, said.
"Every week, we used to receive 10
or 12 airplanes full of Libyan patients, including those who were
wounded after the fall of Gaddafi. The hospitals didn't ask for
guarantees from those patients on humanitarian and brotherly grounds."
National carrier Royal Jordanian flies 13 times a week to Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata.
50 000 patients
to Hammuri, Tripoli now owes $105m to Amman in medical bills, while
around 2 000 Libyan patients are still hospitalised in the Jordanian
"We signed an agreement in November with a Libyan
committee in charge of treating Libyan patients. The panel asked
hospitals to do everything possible for the patients. When we asked the
committee to pay, it told us the bills needed to be examined first, and
they are still being examined," said Hammuri.
"Many Jordanian hospitals now refuse to take Libyan patients."
Libyan officials, Hammuri said countries like Tunisia, Turkey, Italy
and Greece have treated around 50 000 patients since last year's
conflict in Libya. "This has cost the Libyans $1.4bn," he said.
A Libyan health ministry official said a joint committee is currently reviewing the outstanding bills.
of the bills have errors," she said, adding that the two countries have
agreed that half of the outstanding bills will be paid as soon as the
audit is completed.
Mired in scandal
"There are people who are going to Jordan for treatment through the ministry and others through other means," she added.
programme to treat the war wounded abroad has been mired in scandal
with reports of state funds lavishly spent on cosmetic treatments, in
vitro fertilisation and stipends for spouses and relatives.
Hatem Azraai, Jordan's health ministry spokesperson, urged the Libyans to "organise themselves".
problem started when the hospitals made deals with the Libyan side,
outside the umbrella of the Jordanian ministry, which had to interfere
at a later stage when the hospitals failed to get their money," Azraai
"The health ministries in the two countries signed an
agreement to resolve this issue. But the Libyans need to organise
themselves in order to pay the bills."
During their stay in
Jordan, the Libyans rented furnished and serviced apartments and stayed
in dozens of hotels, which now demand around $100m in bills.
outstanding bills have exacerbated conditions for many hotels, which,
according to industry experts, are close to bankruptcy.
the hotels face bankruptcy. Others failed to pay back loans they took
from banks to accommodate the Libyan patients. It is chaos," said
Mohammad Balluti, a spokesperson for a group of 70 hotels.
"I think the Libyans owe $100m to Jordanian hotels."
owners have held demonstrations outside Tripoli's embassy in Amman,
while some of them have reportedly evicted their Libyan guests.
Jordan Hotel Association, which represents 470 hotels and guesthouses
across the country, said 200 establishments had received Libyans in
"We have outstanding bills due to disputes among the
various Libyan groups" which organised the medical trips to Jordan,
said Michael Nazzal, chairperson of the association.
accounts for 14% of GDP in the kingdom of 6.7 million people, and
revenues from the industry generated $1.3bn in the first five months of
"We need a solution to this problem. It is summer now. We expect tourists and we have to accommodate them," said Balluti.