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Union: Unemployment in Gaza soars ahead of May Day

April 25, 2016 1:02 P.M. (Updated: May 1, 2016 10:28 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip has reached 60 percent with some 213,000 workers unemployed, the General Federation of Trade Unions in Gaza said in a statement Sunday ahead of international workers’ day on May 1.

Gaza’s unemployment rate has soared from the 44 percent unemployment rate recorded by the World Bank in 2014 to 60 percent, according to the head of the federation Sami al-Amsi.

The poverty rate among laborers in the besieged coastal enclave meanwhile stands at a staggering 70 percent, he added.

“Palestinian workers will receive International Workers’ Day with accumulating suffering as a result of the crippling siege imposed by the Israeli occupation,”said al-Amsi, asserting that the labor situation in the Gaza Strip “is the worst it’s been in ten years.”

The statement highlighted Egypt's role in the worsening economic situation, pointing to the ongoing closure of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Al-Amsi slammed the Palestinian unity government for "failing to employ a single worker" since it was formed in 2014. “All that Gaza workers were given were illusionary promises that Minister of Labor Maamoun Abu Shahla made in the name of the government.”

Civil servants in Gaza have not been regularly paid since Palestinian factions formed the unity government, although Hamas struggled to pay their salaries regularly even before that. The status of government employees following the formation of the unity government meanwhile has remained in dispute, worsening already faltering livelihoods of several Gazans.

The near-decade long Israeli military blockade of the strip meanwhile has quashed any potential for the strip's economy to recover from three mass military offensives over the past six years alone. The UN reported last year that Gaza could become "uninhabitable" by 2020 if current trends continue.

In a statement published Saturday by the Hamas, the movement “warned against the continuous strangulation of Gaza and the relentless Israeli measures to paralyze life in the (Gaza) Strip.”

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri highlighted the prevention of the entry of cement shipments by Israel into the Gaza Strip as a main instigator of economic and humanitarian suffering.

Abu Zuhri urged regional and international parties to meet their responsibilities concerning the deteriorating and unsustainable conditions facing Gazans.

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