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News > Palestine

Poverty in Palestine to Sharply Rise If Israeli War Continues -UN

  • Report by UNDP and ESCWA:

    Report by UNDP and ESCWA: "The Gaza War: Expected Socio-Economic Impact on the State of Palestine." Nov. 9, 2023. | Photo: X/Palestine Online

Published 9 November 2023

Nearly half a million more Palestinians will be pushed into poverty. 

The UN Development Program (UNDP) and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said in a joint report released on Thursday that if the Israeli war in Gaza continues for a second month, the poverty rate in Palestine will soar by 34 percent.

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Such a figure represents plunging nearly half a million more Palestinians into poverty, the agencies note in the report entitled "The Gaza War: Expected Socio-Economic Impact on the State of Palestine."

In such a scenario, Palestine's gross domestic product (GDP) will plummet by 8.4 percent, a loss of 1.7 billion U.S. dollars, according to UNDP and ESCWA initial estimates.

The assessment indicates that poverty had risen by 20 percent and economic growth had declined by 4.2 percent asthe war hit the one-month mark. In this regard, it added that in this period 390,000 jobs have already been lost, according to the International Labour Organization.

A third month of war would see poverty increase by almost 45 percent, raising the number of additional people pushed into poverty to more than 660,000, while the GDP will fall by 12.2 percent with total losses of 2.5 billion dollars, the two agencies said.

The assessment also warned of a sharp decline in the Human Development Index, UNDP’s summary measure of wellbeing, setting development in the State of Palestine back by between 11 and 16 years, and in Gaza by 16 to 19 years, depending on the intensity of the conflict.

In addition, the report denounced the nearly 1.5 million internally displaced persons in Gaza since the beginning of the Israeli aggression on October 7 and the massive destruction or damage to homes and civilian infrastructure.

The agencies said that "the economic downturn will further exacerbate the catastrophic humanitarian situation and will make recovery prospects challenging and slow."

In this respect, UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said that "The unprecedented loss of life, human suffering, and destruction in the Gaza Strip is unacceptable. UNDP joins the UN Secretary-General’s calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire; the release of all hostages; and humanitarian access to allow life-saving aid to reach civilians at the scale needed."

"This assessment alerts us that the impacts of this war will also have long-lasting effects and will not be confined to Gaza. On top of the humanitarian catastrophe we see unfolding, there is also a development crisis. The war is rapidly accelerating poverty in a population already vulnerable before this crisis hit," Steiner said. 

For her part, ESCWA's executive secretary Rola Dashti said that currently, 1.8 million Palestinians are living in poverty. She further noted that the consequences of the war are even more severe if one considers that the projected increase in poverty relates only to income.

"It's not just monetary poverty. It is multidimensional poverty that is more important," she said, and pointed out that almost all Gazans (96%) are currently multidimensional poor. Even if there is a ceasefire today, the multidimensional poverty situation will not improve quickly, Dashti said.

Multidimensional poverty means deprivation of essential livelihood services such as healthcare, utilities, transportation and freedom of movement, the ESCWA's executive secretary explained. 

However, she said that a ceasefire and a sustained flow of humanitarian aid "would bring immediate and tangible relief from suffering and reduce levels of deprivation for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families: this is an essential first step." 

Abdallah Al Dardari, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, said that the poverty rate in Gaza was 61% before the latest escalation on October 7.  Meanwhile, in the West Bank it was 30%, Al Dardari said. 

Dashti, who launched the report together with Al Dardari, warned that economic recovery in Gaza following a cease-fire will not be immediate, considering the large-scale displacement of the population, the massive levels of destruction and uncertain access to resources, including materials and equipment due to the siege on Gaza.


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