Gaza unemployment rate reaches one of world's highest: UN

08:16, June 14, 2011      

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The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a new report that broad unemployment in Gaza in the second half of 2010 reached an unprecedented 45.2 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, a UN spokesman told reporters in the United Nations Monday.

"The report, released today, finds that real wages continued to decline under the weight of persistently high unemployment, falling 34.5 percent since the first half of 2006," Martin Nesirky, the UN spokesman, told a daily press briefing here.

"The report finds that the private sector was particularly badly hit compared to the government sector," Nesirky said. "In the second half of 2010, businesses lost over 8,000 jobs, a decline in employment of nearly 8 percent relative to the first half of the year. By contrast, the Hamas-dominated public sector grew by nearly 3 per cent during the same period."

Since taking over Gaza in 2007, Hamas succeeded in increasing public employment by at least one-fifth, according to the report. As the public sector generated 70 percent of all net job growth as between second-half 2009 and second-half 2010, this suggests that the policy to weaken Hamas through the blockade has failed.

The report was issued as the Israeli blockade of Gaza enters its fifth year. The UN agency said the report showed figures which demonstrated the current crisis in Gaza and the continuing effects of Israel's blockade on the Palestinians.

Israel fist restricted import and export from Gaza in June 2006, when Hamas militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier in a cross- border raid near the Gaza Strip. A year later, Israel shut Gaza crossings completely, allowing little more than humanitarian aid in.

In June 2010, Israel relaxed the blockade, allowing all products and materials into Gaza but still banning enough shipments of dual-usage materials, including these used in construction.

Asked about how more aid can get into Gaza, Nesirky noted that there are established channels to get aid into Gaza, and said it is preferable to get the aid in through those channels.

Source: Xinhua
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