UN: Over Half of Gaza's Population Live in Poverty

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports that more than one million Gaza residents live below the poverty line due to the blockade imposed upon Gaza Strip and military operations that took place since 2008 which resulted in billions of US dollars in losses.

Illustration. An underprivileged settlement in Gaza reached by the distribution of clean water from the Humanity Water Tank - ACT in the Gaza Strip. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, GAZA - The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports that the poverty rate in Gaza has risen from 40 to 56 percent from 2007 to 2017. With a total population of around two million, this shows that more than one million people in the Gaza Strip live below the poverty line.

Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and more than half of its population lives below the poverty line, the report notes. Most of the people have no access to safe water, regular and reliable electricity supply or even a proper sewage system," says the report published on November 25, 2020.

Furthermore, the Geneva-based agency calculates the losses incurred as a result of the 13-year blockade and military operations that have occurred several times since 2008.

"The cumulative economic cost of the Israeli occupation, only from the prolonged closure and military operations in Gaza, during the 2007–2018 period, is estimated at $16.7 billion," said UNCTAD.

Since June 2007, around two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been confined to an area of ​​365 square meters which has resulted in the deterioration of the Gaza economy and its isolation from the world. In addition, the military operations that took place from 2008 to 2014 resulted in the destruction of 1,500 commercial and industrial enterprises as well as 150,000 household units and government buildings.

“The situation is going to get worse if the blockade continues,” said Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People of UNCTAD.

Furthermore, Elkhafif urged that the blockade be lifted immediately so that Gazans can move freely again, do business, trade with the outside world, and reconnect with their families outside the Gaza Strip.

Poor family without income

The poverty in the Gaza Strip can be seen from the condition of several families that the Aksi Cepat Tanggap partners in Gaza visited, one of which is the family of Ali Muhammad Abu Dalakh who lives in Jabalia City. With six family members to support, Ali is no longer able to work due to his kidney disease.

“Ali's kidney disease requires him to go to the hospital three times a week. Meanwhile, his five children that are still at pursuing education, including two sons who are currently studying at university,” reported ACT partners in Gaza who visited this family in mid-January 2021.

Apart from the Abu Dalakh family, Haitham Nasser Al-Jirjawi's family also lives economic hardship due to a lack of income. Haitham is no longer able to work after being injured in an Israeli attack.

The kitchen in Haitham Al-Jirjawi’s residence in the Al-Daraj area, Gaza City. (ACTNews)

“Haitham also supports his three younger siblings, including one younger sister who is still in college and needs living expenses. In addition, her two young children need diapers and milk. He is no longer able to work due to his injuries,” added ACT's partners in Gaza.

Sister Family Palestine-Indonesia ties two nations

As an effort to continue to support the lives of Palestinians living below the poverty line, Aksi Cepat Tanggap launches the Sister Family Palestine - Indonesia program. Through this program, the donors can commit to providing assistance every month to meet the basic needs of underprivileged families in Palestine such as food, clothing, sanitation needs, school kits, and house rent.

"The Sister Family Program serves as an answer to social problems in Palestine by also strengthening the sense of brotherhood between those who are wealthy and generous, namely Indonesian donors, with those in need, namely beneficiaries in Palestine," said Said Mukaffiy from the Global Humanity Response - ACT, Tuesday (01/26/2021). Said added strengthening the bond between the two nations is the basis of this program. It also aims to solve the problems of poverty among Palestinians with ACT as the intermediary.

Said added that the main beneficiaries of this program are orphans, families with sick family members, debt-ridden families, refugees, honorary teachers, families without income, preachers and imams, poor widows, and families who have lost their patriarchs or whose patriarchs have disabilities. []