Middle East: Arab workers suffering in Gaza, West Bank and Golan, says UN

Geneva, 23 May (AKI) - Workers in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights are suffering growing poverty, fewer real jobs and mounting frustration, according the United Nations.

Only one in three people of working age was employed for all or part of the time, the latest annual report on the issue from the UN's Geneva-based International Labour Organization.

Unemployment is now hovering at above 20 percent, the report said.

The report, based on missions to the region earlier this year, indicated that about half of all Palestinian households are dependent on food assistance from the international community, especially given the recent worldwide spike in the price of many basic foods.

In November last year, about 40 percent of the population in Gaza and 19 percent in the West Bank were classed as living in extreme poverty – a slight improvement on a year earlier after the Palestinian Authority was able to resume wage payments to civil servants. Internation donors cut off funding to the PA after the electoral victory of Islamist Palestinian group Hamas.

The ILO report voices concern about the growing gap between the objectives of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and the reality on the ground.

“With the devastation of military action, and the continuing fine net of restrictions on movement, there is no doubt that economic and social hardship is mounting in the occupied Arab territories,” said the report.

Problems are compounded by what the report called the systematic disregard of Arab workers’ right to equality of opportunity and treatment in employment.


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