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Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Palestinian joblessness rises
Israeli tank
About 125,000 Palestinians depend on jobs in Israel
One third of Palestinian workers are unemployed, according to the latest figures from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

The news comes as international donors are growing increasingly worried about the collapsing economy of the Palestinian territories.


There are fears of a human disaster, people are trying to prepare for the worst

Nigel Roberts
World Bank
Joblessness rose to 33.6% of the workforce in the three months to the end of June, up from 28.9% in the January to March period, the bureau said.

But a United Nations report due to be published this week is believed to put the unemployment rate at closer to 65%.

Blockades

Political unrest coupled with frequent curfews and Israeli blockades of Palestinian areas have contributed to rising unemployment as many Palestinians with jobs in Israel have been unable to go to work.

Donors are worried that international funds earmarked for development projects to create new jobs are being absorbed by emergency relief work.

"The situation is continuing to deteriorate quite significantly," World Bank director for the Palestinian territories Nigel Roberts told BBC News Online.

"There are fears of a human disaster, people are trying to prepare for the worst.

"We are discussing a campaign of humanitarian assistance."

International donors will contribute about $2bn this year to relief work in the Palestinian territories.

No jobs for men

About 366,000 Palestinians were out of work at the end of June, while another 23,000 were underemployed, the Palestinian statistics showed.

Joblessness has been rising steadily since the start of the latest Intifada two years ago - it was 10% in the final three months of 2000.

Gaza has been worst hit, with 41% out of work, while unemployment in the West Bank was 28%.

At least one third of men were out of work in all age groups between 15 and 50 years old, while middle aged women were least likely to be jobless.

Israeli pledge

Israel last month promised a series of measures to ease the economic pressure on the Palestinian territories.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told the donor community that 12,000 Palestinian workers would be allowed to return to their former jobs in Israel.

He also promised Israel would hand over some of the $430m (273m) in Palestinian tax revenues it had been holding for two years and waive overdue fees for water and electricity.

Israel is suffering its worst ever economic crisis for fifty years with the economy expected to shrink about 1% this year.

Joblessness among Israelis was 10% at the end of June, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics said.


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