UNRWA and SDG 1: No Poverty

The SDGs call for the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions by 2030. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty dropped by more than half during the preceding 30 years. The Middle East North Africa region stood as the only region to experience rising levels of poverty during this period. In addition, an increase in extreme poverty in the Middle East was observed between 2011 and 2018, rising from 2.4 per cent to 7.21 per cent.2 Poverty remains prevalent amongst Palestine refugees, with those suffering the impacts of conflict (Gaza and Syria), occupation (West Bank, including in East Jerusalem), blockade (Gaza), political crisis and social and economic exclusion (Lebanon) bearing the brunt. Poverty rates are also typically higher inside Palestine refugee camps, where approximately one third of the Palestine refugee population live, than outside.  

Seventy per cent of Palestine refugees in Gaza identify as either poor (37 per cent) or extremely poor (33 per cent),3 as do 49 per cent (poor) and 19 per cent (extremely poor) in Syria.4 For Palestine refugees in Lebanon, economic and political crises have led to increased poverty with 73 per cent of families living below the poverty line.5  The onset of COVID-19 has intensified the rise in poverty throughout the region, deepening pre-existing inequalities, aggravating humanitarian conditions and vulnerability amongst Palestinian refugees and amplifying the impacts of the pandemic itself.6 

UNRWA has adopted a holistic approach to tackle poverty and the disruptive effects associated with over 70 years of displacement. Access to free primary health care, basic education, livelihood opportunities, relief and social services, shelter and environmental health are critical in ensuring that Palestine refugees have the fundamentals to overcome the multidimensional nature of poverty. In addition, efforts to bridge the gender gap, protect the vulnerable and empower the marginalised (including women and persons with disabilities) ensure that nobody is left behind on the path towards sustainable development.