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Sun 12 May 2002 04:00 AM

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Intifada has cost Palestinian economy $8.5 billion

According to the Palestinian daily newspaper Al Quds, the Palestinian economy has suffered $8.5 billion in losses since the "intifada" or uprising against the Israeli occupation began September 2000.

According to the Palestinian daily newspaper Al Quds, the Palestinian economy has suffered $8.5 billion in losses since the "intifada" or uprising against the Israeli occupation began September 2000. Citing figures on Thursday provided by Arab Labour Organization Director General Ibrahim Queider, Al Quds reported that approximately 450,000 Palestinian workers have lost their jobs due to the unrest. Since the uprising began in Sept. 2000, two million of the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are now living in poverty, the daily added. The Israeli policy of collective punishment against the Palestinians and Israeli economic blockades has also damaged the economy, according to the report by Queider. The report is to be presented next month to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva and the ILO will be asked to appoint an international committee to monitor the situation of the Palestinians, Queider told the East Jerusalem daily.The World Bank, is currently seeking more than $700 million to fill a funding gap on a $1.7-billion humanitarian program for Palestinians, reported the Financial Times of London in April. According to the latest report issued by the World Bank and UNSCO on 12 March, entitled Fifteen Months - Intifada, Closures and Palestinian Economic Crisis, Palestinian per capita income declined by 12% in 2000 as a whole and a further 19% in 2001 despite the injection of donor funds worth $195 per person since 1994, or “one of the highest levels of per capita official development assistance anywhere in the world.”In addition to the human losses of life and injury, which “defy economic estimation,” the report says that some $305mn worth of physical damage had been incurred by the end of December 2001. More importantly, “Gross National Income losses…amounted to at least $2.4bn in real terms by the end of 2001.” According to the report, under the best case scenario Palestine will need some $1.5bn in its current fiscal year just to maintain the status quo, with $1.7bn needed should the closure tighten funding. However, the three scenarios projected by the report were drawn up without factoring in the latest escalation of violence, suggesting that in reality the worst-case scenario would require significantly more.

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