Economic crisis in Gaza worsens:UNRWA

crying child from Gaza

crying child from Gaza

Gaza remains in crisis following the Israeli blockade in 2007. Economic sanctions imposed at that time by Israel included restrictions on goods moving in and out of the Palestinian territories, as well as restrictions on the movement of the residents within. The Gaza War of 2008-2009 in which hundreds of Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed, aggravated the conflict and has left the territory in economic disrepair. UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency, a relief and development agency, assists Palestinians displaced by decades of conflict. But Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Spokesman, says economic and humanitarian deterioration in Gaza are at a low point. Gerry Adams reports:

Narrator: A society with unemployment approaching 50 percent is a society on the brink, says Christopher Gunness, Spokesman for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The Palestinian economy, he says, is approaching this trigger point:

UNRWA 1: According to the latest figures, unemployment is now 45.5 percent from the second quarter of 2010, when the figure was 44.3 percent. In the third quarter of 2010, it reached 45.5 percent. And those are the latest figures we have for unemployment.

Narrator: A second worrying indicator, he says, is declining real wages:

UNRWA 2: From the first half of 2009 until the first half of 2010, real monthly wages have gone down by 9.5 percent, SEGUE Less money in people’s pockets means more despair.

Narrator: The UNRWA spokesman told a news conference that on the positive side, Israel had relaxed the restrictions it imposed following its 2007 blockade of the Gaza Strip. That blockade was imposed shortly after the political organization Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election.

UNRWA 3: The Israeli authorities have now (ap)proved 43 UNRWA projects with a value of 75 million dollars. This amounts to 11.4 percent of our construction and reconstruction needs in Gaza over the next three years. We in UNRWA acknowledge this positive development but we must do so in the context of the massive need we see today in Gaza.

Narrator: Turning to young people and their education, half the refugee population for which UNRWA is responsible is under the age of 25, which puts huge pressure on UNRWA’s schools. These schools, where over half a million refugee children are educated, need to be repaired or rebuilt, says Mr. Gunness:

UNRWA: We in UNRWA need to build 100 schools over the next three years. And those are just UNRWA schools. That figure does not include PA schools though I understand the figure is about the same. We in UNRWA need to rebuild or build 10 thousand housing units and six health centres, that’s over the next three years.

Narrator: Christorpher Gunness is the Spokesman for UNRWA is the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Gerry Adams, United Nations.

duration:  2’44″


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