Abed Zaggout | UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP) - Photo: 2024

The Gaza War Pushes More Than Half of Palestinians into Poverty

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK | 3 May 2024 (IDN) — The seven-month-long Gaza war is thrusting nearly 1.74 million—more than 58 per cent—of Palestinians into poverty, plunging the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State of Palestine by nearly 27 per cent or causing a loss of 7.1 billion US Dollar from a 2023 no-war baseline.

“Every additional day that this war continues, is exacting huge and compounding costs to Gazans and all Palestinians, now and in the medium and long term. Compared to our preliminary assessment, these new figures warn that the suffering in Gaza will not end when the war does,” said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner.

“Unprecedented levels of human losses, capital destruction, and the steep rise in poverty in such a short period of time will precipitate a serious development crisis that jeopardizes the future of generations to come.”

According to new estimates by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), if the war continues for further nine months, poverty will more than double—increasing to 60.7 per cent, two-and-a-half times of pre-war levels—raising the number of additional people pushed into poverty to more than 1.86 million, while the decrease of GDP would reach 29 per cent with total losses of US$7.6 billion.

A sharp decline in the Human Development Index (HDI)

The assessment also warns of a sharp decline in the Human Development Index (HDI), UNDP’s summary measure of well-being. “The setback in human development in the State of Palestine may exceed two decades—to earlier than 2004 when the HDI was first calculated for the State of Palestine.”

“Unlike previous wars, the destruction in Gaza today is unprecedented in scope and scale and coupled with the loss of homes, livelihoods, natural resources, infrastructure as well as institutional capacities, may have deep and systemic impacts for decades to come,” said ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti.

“This assessment projects that Gaza will be rendered fully dependent on external assistance on a scale not seen since 1948, as it will be left without a functional economy, or any means of production, self-sustainment, employment, or capacity for trade.”

The UNDP-ESCWA updated assessment complements results of the Joint Interim Damage Assessment recently released by the World Bank and the United Nations, which indicated that direct damages inflicted on Gaza’s built infrastructure as of January 2024, amount to approximately US$18.5 billion, equivalent to 97 per cent of the total GDP of the State of Palestine in 2022.

The updated assessment was presented at a meeting on 2 May that brought together directors of key United Nations agencies in the Arab States region to discuss how different regional actors can best support the efforts of the UN Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory for recovery assessment and planning. UNDP, as the lead agency on early recovery, has been working closely with UN agencies and national partners to plan and prepare for commencing early recovery in Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, without delay as conditions allow. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Abed Zaggout | UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP)

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