The UN said on Wednesday that the situation in Gaza was catastrophic after 11 years of economic siege and warned that Washington’s decision to halt assistance to Palestinian refugees would create more misery.
Isabelle Durant, the deputy head of the United Nations development agency (UNCTAD), said:
In a new report, the UN agency said the Palestinian economy, long stifled by the Israeli occupation, was being hit hard by a sharp drop in international support to the Palestinians, even before Washington’s dramatic cuts.
Last year, international development assistance to the Palestinians shrunk by more than 10 percent compared to a year earlier.
That dramatic drop in support came before US President Donald Trump’s government decided to completely halt its funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), which had previously stood at around $350 million a year.
The Trump administration has also scrapped around $200 million in payments by USAID to the Palestinians, and at the weekend said it would cut $25 million more in direct aid to six hospitals that primarily serve Palestinians in Jerusalem.
UNCTAD said in a statement that the declining international support, coupled with
The widespread restrictions on the movement of people and goods, confiscation of land and natural resources, and the accelerating expansion of Israeli settlements were also damaging, it said.
In a report last year, the UN agency said that the Palestinian economy could easily double and that sky-high unemployment and poverty would plummet if the Israeli occupation were lifted.
And in its latest report, UNCTAD suggested that simply removing some of the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and investment could allow the territory’s gross economy to swell by up to 10 percent.
Simply lifting the blockade would quickly see its economic growth shoot up by a third, the report said.
Source: Palestine Chronicle