Cash aid offers hope to Gazans in distress

Root causes

Israel’s siege on Gaza, now entering its 14th year, its recurring hostilities with Palestinian armed groups and the internal Palestinian divide have put people here on a downward spiral. Israel’s severe restrictions on access, movement and trade have prevented the private sector in Gaza from fulfilling its natural role as the primary engine of job creation and economic growth.

A plan proposed by Israel to formally annex parts of the West Bank prompted the Palestinian Authority to suspend coordination with the Israeli government for six months from May 2020. This means that it has stopped accepting tax revenue collected. in its name, which constitute two-thirds of public revenue. returned. The Palestinian Authority struggled to pay public sector workers on time and in full, affecting nearly 40 percent of Gaza’s workforce, and canceled social assistance. Some 80,000 families in Gaza who were registered in the Ministry of Social Development’s national cash transfer program did not receive their last quarterly payment in 2020.

The global pandemic has exacerbated the weakness of Gaza’s economy and eroded the already limited purchasing power and resilience of the population. According to world Bank, the Palestinian economy shrank by 11.5% in 2020. The income of 38% of families in Gaza has fallen by half or more, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

The unemployment rate in Gaza in the last quarter of 2020 was 43%, according to the world Bankwith the poverty rate slated to drop from 53% to 64% by the end of 2020. More Palestinians in Gaza have been forced into debt, as a growing number of families face lawsuits for failing to pay. repayment of their loans. According to OCHA Overview of humanitarian needs 2021, an estimated 1.6 million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

Rising debt

In August and September 2020, the Gaza Protection Consortium (GPC) interviewed 2,241 refugee families, representing more than 14,300 people, across Gaza. The GPC is a joint venture between the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Mercy Corps, supported by EU humanitarian aid.

All of the families selected to participate in the survey live in “extreme poverty” – that is, with an income of less than NIS 1,974 (506) per month – as defined by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, based on consumption patterns in 2017.

Almost three in four families said they had not worked in the 30 days before responding to the survey. Only 22 percent said they had a temporary job and only 4 percent a permanent job.

The lack of employment opportunities in Gaza, and the resulting dependence on informal and unreliable sources of income, has pushed some 90% of families to accumulate large and unsustainable debts.

The average monthly income reported by families was 382 shekels (€ 98), while the average monthly expenditure was NIS 726 (€ 186). Average household debt stood at NIS 10,173 (€ 2,615), more than double the average annual income.

The majority of families reported using informal loans from local stores, family members, friends, other community members and employers. Assuming that the average family doesn’t take on new debt, it would take six years to pay off their debt in full without help.

Read the full report of the investigation

The European Union and its Member States are the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid, helping millions of victims of conflicts and disasters every year. With its headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.

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