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Conditions Worsening In Occupied Arab Territories

Conditions worsening for workers in occupied Arab territories, UN report finds

22 May 2008 - The situation for workers in the occupied Arab territories is deteriorating, with rates of working poverty rising, genuine employment declining and individual frustration growing, according to the latest annual report on the issue from the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO).

Only one in three people of working age living in the occupied Arab territories, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, was employed for all or part of the time, the report said. Unemployment is now hovering at above 20 per cent.

The report, based on missions to the region earlier this year, indicated that about half of all Palestinian households are dependent on food assistance from the international community, especially given the recent worldwide spike in the price of many basic foods.

In November last year, about 40 per cent of the population in Gaza and 19 per cent in the West Bank were classed as living in extreme poverty - an actual slight improvement on the comparable figures from a year earlier after the Palestinian Authority was able to resume wage payments to civil servants.

Prepared by the International Labour Office, the secretariat of the Geneva-based ILO, the report voices concern about the growing gap between the hopes and aims of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and the reality on the ground.

"With the devastation of military action, and the continuing fine net of restrictions on movement, there is no doubt that economic and social hardship is mounting in the occupied Arab territories," it says, adding that the problems are compounded by what it called the systematic disregard of Arab workers' right to equality of opportunity and treatment in employment.

Institutions in the region that represent free and democratic employers and workers are also facing interference in their right to organize, according to the ILO.


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