Gaza unemployment reaches 45 per cent, says UNRWA

10 February 2011

10 February 2011

UNRWA has called on the leaders of European countries to work collectively to bring an end to the suffering of the people of Gaza, as new figures revealed unemployment levels in the Strip to be at an all-time high.

Speaking to members of the press in Gaza yesterday, spokesperson Chris Gunness said that the rate of unemployment in the Strip had reached 44.5 per cent by the end of 2010, and had increased by a further 0.5 per cent since the start of 2011.

Real monthly earnings in Gaza had gone down by 9.5 per cent between the first half of 2009 and the first half of 2010, he said.

“We are monitoring the situation in the region, in the hope that the world is looking to develop new strategies to end the humanitarian crisis," Gunness told journalists. He warned that the crisis would deepen without immediate international intervention to halt the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Responding to a question about the likelihood of another Israeli military assault on the Strip, Gunness said that Gaza was still struggling to recover from the onslaught of Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009.

"Any further action taken by Israel would exacerbate the devastation that already exists," he added.

Pointing out that the region has become a "real test" for the global community, Mr Gunness said that the real measure of the success or failure of world leaders will be whether they assist or abandon the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A version of this article originally appeared on the news site Middle East Monitor.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 69 million.

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