Palestinian jobless rate soars

May 31, 2002, BBC News

Palestinian territories are facing a "meltdown"

The Palestinian territories are heading deeper into economic crisis, with almost half the working population now unemployed, according to a new report. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said on Friday that unemployment in the territories reached 43% during the first three months of the year.

The report, based on an ILO mission to the region earlier this month, added that economic output in Palestinian areas fell by 12% last year.

The proportion of the Palestinian population subsisting on less than $2 (£1.4; 2.1 euros) a day rose to 46% last year, and could widen to 62% in 2002.


The decline in economic output and income partly reflects movement restrictions which have made it difficult for Palestinians to keep working in Israel.

The ILO said the Palestinian territories are in the grip of a "socio-economic meltdown".

"Palestinian and Israeli populations are paying a very high price for occupation and violence," the report said.

It called for a relaxation of movement restrictions, and the establishment of a Palestinian employment fund.

Israeli economy woes

In Israel, gross domestic product fell by 0.5% last year, while unemployment edged up by nearly two percentage points to 10.5%, the report said.

The Israeli construction industry has been hit hard by the loss of about 55,000 Palestinian workers, while the tourist sector is struggling with a 50% drop in visitor numbers.

The country's lucrative hi-tech industries have also suffered as a result of last year's economic downturn in the US.

The ILO report is to be formally unveiled at the organisation's annual conference in Geneva next month.