Palestinians have seen their employment reduced by two-thirds in the Gaza Strip – equivalent to 192,000 jobs – since the outbreak of the war, the ILO and Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said on Wednesday.
The spillover effect on the economy of the occupied West Bank was also significant, with a one-third reduction in employment – equivalent to 276,000 jobs.
The devastating loss in the job market in Gaza exacerbates the already dire conditions which prevailed in the blockaded territory even before the current conflict, “rendering it essentially uninhabitable”, the report added.
Palestinians in Gaza have long grappled with persistently high rates of poverty, vulnerability and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, it noted.
“The crisis has caused a huge distortion in the Palestinian economic structure,” said PCBS president Ola Awad.
“The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip now exceeds three-quarters of the labour force, and around a third of the West Bank’s labour force is unemployed, reaching the highest level of unemployment in decades,” Awad added
This “humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions” that has wreaked havoc on the labour market will result in life-long hardship for the population and a complete dependency on international aid, the organisations announced.
Peter Rademaker, ILO’s deputy regional director for Arab states, told Al Jazeera from Geneva that Palestinians in Gaza “will be in poverty for many months and years to come” because of Israel’s war on the enclave.
“The labour market was already very depressed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza even before the war,” he said.
“[As the war goes on] many people in Gaza and also West Bank will have no income, no wages. Nobody’s going to pay them any money and they will increasingly have to rely on international assistance,” added the deputy director.
This will leave the people of Palestine in a state of dependency and in competition for a share of global distributions of aid money for many years to come.
“Unfortunately, the authorities have no public financing to provide social assistance, so it’s going to have to come from the outside,” he explained.
“As we all know, many crises are raging globally, and the chances of Palestine receiving the international aid it needs are not necessarily very high.”
Nearly 40,000 buildings, or about 18 percent of all pre-conflict structures have been damaged or destroyed in the Gaza Strip since the conflict started, a UN assessment showed last week.