The economy of the West Bank is not flourishing at the level that has been
widely reported as of late, the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees
(UNRWA) stated in a press release on Wednesday.
The press release came
upon the release of a new UNRWA report that claims that during the second half
of 2010 purchasing power of the average resident of the West Bank has declined
as unemployment has far outpaced employment. According to the report, the
economic situation is worse for refugees, who the organization says should
expect to face an even higher rate of aid dependency than before.
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of the research behind the study, Salem Ajluni, said "While there was modest
employment growth [in the West Bank], such growth was on the wane in 2010 while
the number of unemployed accelerated in the second half of the year."
added that in 2010 “the average broad refugee unemployment rate rose by more
than a percentage point to 27.9 percent relative to first-half 2009 as compared
to 24.1 per cent rate for non-refugees.”
Among both refugees and
non-refugees, the report states that there was on average about 3 per cent
decline in the real value of their wages.
According to the report, in the
second-half of 2010 "non-refugees deepened their labor market while refugees
withdrew further, continuing the shrinkage in the West Bank refugee labor
force…non-refugees accounted for all net employment gains as refugee employment
receded. At the same time, non-refugees accounted for all the growth in
unemployment. Reduced refugee labor force participation resulted in a decline in
the number of unemployed refugees."
The findings of the report come less than
two weeks after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a speech to the US
Congress in which he said "the Palestinian economy is booming. It's growing by
more than 10 percent a year."
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said Wednesday that
“the economic good news that the media have made much of in recent months
overlooks deeper processes underway. Refugee labor market conditions in
particular regressed. The occupation and its related infrastructure such as
settlements and settler-only roads that encroach on and divide Palestinian land,
settler violence and the West Bank Barrier have diminished prospects for
Palestinians in general and especially for refugees."