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October 25, 2023 5:52 PM IST

Gaza needs billions in aid to reverse years of restrictions -UN trade body

Gaza needs billions of dollars in international economic aid to compensate for years of restrictions that have stifled its economy and curbed its development, according to a report published on Wednesday by the United Nations trade body.

In its report on the economic development of the Occupied Palestinian Territory for 2022, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) highlighted the dire economic conditions in Gaza, even prior to Israeli strikes on the enclave in reprisal for the deadly Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas gunmen in southern Israel.

“Donors and the international community need to extend significant economic aid to repair the extensive damage Gaza has experienced under prolonged restrictions and closures and frequent military operations, which has stifled the economy and decimated infrastructure,” the report said.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Richard Kozul-Wright, director of UNCTAD’s division on globalization and development strategies, said it was difficult to fully assess how much money would be needed to buttress the economy in Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas militant group.

Last year Palestinian authorities received only $250 million in donor budget support and $300 million for development projects, the report said.

There has also been a steep decline in foreign aid between 2008 and 2022, from $2 billion – representing 27% of gross domstic product (GDP) – to $550 million, or less than 3% of GDP, last year.

Nearly half of Gaza’s population is unemployed and more than half lives in poverty, the report said. Although workers in Gaza have been allowed access to Israel’s job market for the first time in recent years, the number of permits issued — around 1% of employed workers in Gaza — are too few to counter poverty.

(Inputs from Reuters)

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