UN Report: Joblessness and Poverty on the Rise in Territories

Report warns closing crossings between territories, Israel will cause more deterioration in humanitarian situation.

Economic, social and emotional hardship in the territories - the Gaza Strip in particular - is on the rise, according to a new United Nations report that will be presented at the Donors Conference in London on Tuesday.

The report warns that closing the crossings between Gaza, Israel and the West Bank will cause a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the area.

According to the report, some 37 percent of the residents of the territories had trouble acquiring food over the past year, while another 27 percent were at risk of running into such difficulties. In the Gaza Strip, the rate reached some 54 percent.

The report classified some 48 percent of West Bank residents and 65 percent of Gaza inhabitants as poor. And in East Jerusalem, according to the report, the rate of poor families increased threefold in the past year - from 2 percent to 6 percent.

Quoting data from the Palestinian Authority's Central Bureau of Statistics, the report says that 16 percent of Palestinians in the territories spend NIS 7 a day on daily subsistence, with the World Bank warning that without aid, the rate could increase to 35 percent.

The report also notes a 10-15 percent rise in the mortality rate among children in the territories compared to the rate recorded prior to the intifada.

Some 31 percent of children in the Gaza Strip reported having suffered domestic violence, as opposed to 16 percent in the West Bank. Two-thirds of boys and almost 25 percent of girls in the territories are exposed to physical violence, the report says, adding that one-third of the families in the territories had noted that their sons or daughters suffer from at least one symptom of psychological-social distress such as anxiety or depression.

The report also notes the World Health Organization's concerns regarding the fact that more Palestinian youths than ever are using drugs and do not practice safe sex.

According to the report, the third quarter of the year saw unemployment in the territories hit 28 percent, with the rate in Gaza reaching 35 percent. Some 57 percent of workers in the territories were paid monthly wages below the poverty line, the report says.

The rise in unemployment is explained, partially, by restrictions on movement due to closures and roadblocks.

During the course of 2005, UN agencies allocated a total of around $500 million toward humanitarian aid and economic development in the territories. Over and above this sum, up until July, donor countries transferred or undertook to transfer to the territories $134 million for urgent humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency invested more than $15 million in microfinancing projects and another $18 million in income-creation programs in the territories.

Additional data in the report:

  • Some 253 structures were demolished in the West Bank over the past 10 months.

  • Around 5,000 Palestinians are living in closed-off areas between the Green Line and the separation fence. This number will increase to some 49,000 when the fence is completed.

  • Raids by the Israel Defense Forces have undermined the supply of water, and its quality, to the territories.