UN report: Palestinian socio-economic development has one of its worst years since 1994 – Occupied Palestinian Territory
Large vaccine allocations to cover priority groups expected in the occupied Palestinian territory over the next two months
Friday, February 19, 2021, Jerusalem – A recently released United Nations report describes 2020 as a year of setbacks for Palestinians, their institutions, and their economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an unprecedented budget crisis. The report points out that during the first shutdown of COVID-19 last spring, around 150,000 Palestinians lost their jobs, and equally significant negative impacts are expected from the current shutdown. “In 2020, the Palestinian economy contracted by around 10 to 12 percent, one of the largest annual contractions since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.”
The report, released by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) for the next biennial virtual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on February 23, 2021, notes that near the half of the Palestinian population is now in need of humanitarian assistance as the protracted humanitarian crisis is exacerbated by the pandemic. The unfortunate events of 2020 are expected to negatively shape Palestinian development trajectories for many years to come. The Special Coordinator said: “The Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people were hit hard in 2020, with more than half of the population in need, but I am hopeful that donors will step up and provide support. they need so much.
Highlighting certain areas of optimism, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, said: “Since the beginning of February, vaccines have also started arriving in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and, thanks to efforts of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the United Nations is supporting the preparation of the Palestinian government to receive and administer vaccines, including through the global facility COVAX-AMC. The Special Coordinator noted Israel’s logistical support in delivering vaccines to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In addition, large vaccine allocations to cover priority groups are expected in the occupied Palestinian territory over the next two months, but large funding gaps remain, according to the report. “These are difficult times, but it is all the more reason for the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to show flexibility and a pragmatic approach to solve pressing problems and ensure that the Palestinian people can recover from a year. difficult, ”said special coordinator Wennesland.
The report calls on the international community to support a wide range of humanitarian and development projects, alongside technical assistance, to help the Palestinian government deliver on its promises of economic reform. In this context, the report also indicates that “the reintegration of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in as many dimensions as possible should be a priority”. The increase in business and economic opportunities should be supported wherever possible. UN mechanisms to facilitate access of materials to Gaza, such as the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, will continue to play a major role in this effort as well as in the facilitation of critical infrastructure and humanitarian projects inside. of Gaza.
The report notes some of the initiatives that the UN and its partners will pursue, including critical support for Palestinian health services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as support for the Palestinian Authority’s socio-economic response plan. to COVID-19, through fundraising, technical assistance and implementation. In addition, and depending on donor support, the United Nations can scale up its ongoing job creation programs and accelerate its support to critical infrastructure projects and the private sector, including small and medium-sized enterprises. The United Nations and its partners are committed to making significant efforts to mobilize resources, further redirecting existing funding and improving donor coordination. Special Coordinator Wennesland said: “I call on the international community to work together to prevent further backsliding of the Palestinian people and to see progress in some important areas of common interest, especially in Israeli-Palestinian economic relations.