Conditions worsening for Palestinian people, UNCTAD report warns

05 September 2012

UNCTAD's annual report on Assistance to the Palestinian People released today warned that long-term prospects for economic development in the occupied Palestinian territory have worsened.

The report points to the continuing economic blockade of Gaza, and the increase in the number of mobility barriers to Palestinian people and goods in the West Bank, as well as the decline in donor support which will have serious socio-economic ramifications for the population.

The report outlines continued severe poverty, and the chronic food insecurity affecting two of every three Palestinians in the occupied territory, but is most severe in Gaza. Also alarming, the report indicates, is the poverty level in East Jerusalem, estimated at 78 per cent, higher than rates in the West Bank and Gaza.

children in the West Bank
The stresses of poverty and occupation have badly affected refugee children in the West Bank (Photo: UNRWA)

On food insecurity, the report points out that the agricultural sector's contribution to Palestinian GDP shrank from 12 per cent in 1995 to 5.5 per cent in 2011, while only 35 per cent of the irrigable land of the occupied Palestinian territory is actually irrigated, which costs the economy 110,000 jobs per year and 10 per cent of GDP. With fishing off the coast of Gaza restricted beyond 3 nautical miles from the coast, the Palestinian fishing industry has collapsed almost completely, the report says.

UNCTAD's mandate on work on Palestine was strengthened by member States at the UNCTAD XIII conference in Doha, Qatar in April of this year.

The consensus document -- the Doha Mandate -- asked UNCTAD to:
"Continue to assess the economic development prospects of the occupied Palestinian territory and examine obstacles to trade and development, and should strengthen its programme of assistance to the Palestinian people with adequate resources and effective operational activities, as part of the international community’s commitment to building an independent Palestinian State, and with a view to alleviating the adverse economic and social conditions imposed on the Palestinian people, in line with the Accra Accord."

The report is expected to be taken up in appropriate sessions of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board which will be meeting from 17 to 28 September.