UNDP says poverty rate soar by 34% in Palestine as Gaza war continues

Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 11th Nov.  UN Development Programme on Friday in its report released has warned that the poverty rate in Palestine will soar by 34 per cent, as half a million additional people into poverty, if the war in Gaza continues for another month.

The UNDP and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia has estimated that Palestine’s gross domestic product will plummet by 8.4 per cent, a loss of $1.7 billion.

It is estimated that, as the war hit the one-month mark, poverty had risen by 20 per cent and economic growth had declined by 4.2 per cent, said the two agencies in their report on the socio-economic impacts of the Gaza war on Palestine.

The assessment underscores that the ILO estimates that 390,000 jobs have already been lost in the first month of war, Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

According to projections, a third month of war would see poverty increase by almost 45 per cent, raising the number of additional people pushed into poverty to more than 660,000, while the GDP will fall by 12.2 per cent with total losses of $2.5 billion.

Rola Dashti, executive secretary of ESCWA said 1.8 million Palestinians are living in poverty.

The poverty rate in Gaza was 61 per cent before the Hamas-Israel war erupted on October 7.

Abdallah Al Dardari, UN assistant secretary-general and director of UNDP’s regional bureau for Arab states said that the poverty rate in the West Bank was 30 per cent.

According to the report the assessment warned of a sharp decline in the Human Development Index, the UNDP’s summary measure of well-being, setting development in Palestine back by between 11 to 16 years, and in Gaza by 16 to 19 years, depending on the intensity of the conflict.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner in a press release that “The unprecedented loss of life, human suffering, and destruction in the Gaza Strip is unacceptable,”.

“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.”

Dashti  launched the report together with Al Dardari, warned that economic recovery in Gaza following a ceasefire 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 owing to the siege on Gaza.

She warned that the consequences of the war are even more severe given the fact that the projected poverty increase is about income only.

“It’s not only the money-metric poverty. It is the multidimensional poverty that is more important,” she said, noting that almost all Gazans (96 percent) are currently multi dimensionally poor.

She said multidimensional poverty means the deprivation of essential services for livelihood, including health, utilities, transport and freedom of movement.

Even if there is a cease-fire today, the multidimensional poverty situation will not improve quickly, she said.

The report stressed that with 1.5 million people in Gaza internally displaced since the beginning of the war and the massive destruction of houses reportedly destroyed or damaged, the assessment predicts that the economic downturn will further exacerbate the catastrophic humanitarian situation and will make recovery prospects challenging and slow.

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