New UN report documents dire economic crisis facing Palestinians

5 December  The recent severe crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations,
which has resulted in the death and injury of thousands of Palestinians -
and numerous Israelis -- and caused damage to Palestinian infrastructure
and property, has seriously disrupted the economy of the Occupied
Palestinian Territory, according to a new United Nations report released

The report, which examines the impact on the Palestinian economy of
confrontations, mobility restrictions and border closures, estimates that
Palestinians have lost $505 million during the 60-day period from the end
of September to the end of November. It warns that "unless relief to
Palestinian households is provided in the coming months, the extent of the
humanitarian crisis is likely to worsen."

Presenting the report to key donors and senior officials of the
Palestinian Authority yesterday, the UN Special Coordinator, Terje
Roed-Larsen, said he was deeply worried about the severe economic hardship
faced by the Palestinians. Some 260,000 workers in the West Bank and Gaza
were unemployed, and because each of them supported several other people,
over 1 million Palestinians had suffered serious economic loss, he said.

Noting that between 1996 and 1999 the unemployment rate had fallen from 30
per cent to 12 per cent, he said: "Three years of progress have been wiped
out in two months of conflict."

The Special Coordinator said he was most worried about the rise in poverty
rates which, according to the World Bank, would reach 32 per cent by the
end of December -- a stark increase from the September figures of less
than one fifth of the population. He said that almost half of all
Palestinians were now living on less than $2.10 per day.

Each day of the crisis added another $10 million in losses to the
Palestinian economy, Mr. Roed-Larsen said, adding that this figure did not
take account of damage to infrastructure, the cost of caring for over
9,000 injured Palestinians, and other fiscal losses.

The Special Coordinator said his message to Israel was that closures were
counter-productive. He said that unemployment and poverty lead directly to
anger and aggression, and stressed that while the closure policy was
implemented for security reasons, in reality it was creating a less secure

"There can be no end to the current violence until there is real political
progress on the ground," he said. "And there will be no lasting peace
until there is real improvement in the economic conditions of the