Israeli airstrike on Gaza, 17 July 2017

 Gaza: Urgent UN efforts to lower tensions and rebuild the economy  

PNN/ Gaza/

Against the backdrop of rapidly rising tension, violence, poverty and alarming unemployment rates reaching 60%, the United Nations said in a press release that it is moving urgently to create employment opportunities and develop economic recovery initiatives for youth and women in the Gaza Strip. The objective of these cumulative initiatives focuses on improved livelihoods, enhanced access to productive assets, and provision of basic services for the population in the Gaza Strip, as part of a broader UN coordinated international effort to urgently lower tensions and prevent another armed conflict in Gaza.

In this context, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov “continues to work closely with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel, Egypt and other regional and international partners to prevent another violent explosion, support the return of the PA to Gaza and resolve all humanitarian issues.”

“UNDP’s efforts to create employment are exactly what is most needed right now. As we work to advance a political solution, this marks the beginning of what we hope will be a larger effort to support Gaza’s infrastructure and generate employment. In light of the dangerous escalation over the past few days, such initiatives are more critical than ever. I appeal to all sides to step back from the brink.” Mladenov stressed.

As part of its commitment to support the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People is implementing various employment generation interventions to mitigate the impact of the harsh socio-economic conditions.

First, UNDP said it will be creating more than 2,500 immediate and short-term job opportunities over a 12-month period, directly benefiting 2,979 people, with the aim ensuring that 40% of job placements are women. Projects will cover youth engagement through entrepreneurship and start-ups, e-work and outsourcing, business support, vocational and technical training as well as skills development. This is a part of an on-going UNDP initiative in Gaza through the Palestinian Families Economic Empowerment Programme (DEEP).

“Second, a rapid employment scheme was also recently launched covering approximately 1,500 young men and women, including persons with disabilities, who benefit from short to medium term employment opportunities. These include apprenticeships for improved public services, recruitment of lifeguards, upgrading of municipal GIS systems, in addition to enabling 420 fishermen to reclaim their livelihoods,” UNDP added.

The scheme is funded by the generous contributions of the Islamic Development Bank (USD 2 million), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (USD 1.2 million), and UNDP (USD 300,000)

Through these interventions over 4,000 new sources of income will be created. Additionally, ongoing infrastructure projects related to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of educational facilities and the construction of water, wastewater and health facilities are also creating thousands of workdays every week for skilled and unskilled labourers.