(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In what could be his last significant act as welfare and social services minister, Isaac Herzog is to urge on Sunday an increase in welfare programs in the Beduin sector, to the tune of NIS 50 million in the next five years, his office announced over the weekend.
"It is crucial that we improve the services to the Beduin community in the South," Herzog said in a statement. "They suffer from a wide range of social problems including poverty, polygamy and a weak social infrastructure."
According to figures from Herzog's office, the estimated 160,000-strong Israeli Beduin population - which could reach as high as 300,000 by 2020 - suffers from an estimated 26 to 32 percent unemployment rate, more than three times the national average, and 40% of those who receive state benefits in the South are members of the community.
In addition, 70% of Beduin children live below the poverty line, as compared to the 30% of all Israeli children, said a spokeswoman for the minister.
Among the programs to be focused on in the sector are those for mothers and infants, children and youth at risk and a special project for teens already in trouble with the law. Based on the recent Goldberg Report into the status of the Beduin sector, Herzog's plan will also provide new options for community members with special needs.