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Two-thirds unemployment in occupied Arab territories – UN labour study

Two-thirds unemployment in occupied Arab territories – UN labour study

The situation of workers in Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights has worsened dramatically over the past year, with two out of three people lacking employment, according to a new report by the United Nations labour agency.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) found that seven in 10 households, comprising some 2.4 million persons, were below the poverty line and said that the situation has deteriorated primarily because of the non-payment of wages for public employees and mounting obstacles to the movement of goods and people.

“There is territorial disintegration, with a tight network of closures, sophisticated controls and the expansion of illegal settlements,” said the report, adding that “closures are the main cause of the worsening socio-economic situation of Palestinian women and men.”

According to the report, the number of households below the poverty line jumped by 26 per cent between March 2006 and March 2007, while per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in the occupied territories was 40 per cent lower in 2006 than in 1999.

The contraction in income is in large part due to the non-payment of full wages of public employees since April 2006, the decline in public and private investment and the growing difficulties in moving products to markets, the report said.

The report, which urged Israel, the Palestinian Authority and international donors to pay much more attention to the economy, enterprises and employment in the territories, was prepared for the ILO’s International Labour Conference which opens its annual session in Geneva tomorrow.