Number of Palestinian families living under poverty line could double, warns minister

A group of volunteer youth carry out disinfection works at a refugee camp as part of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic precautions, in Khan Yunis, Gaza (Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  April 16, 2020

The number of Palestinian families living under the official poverty line is expected to double in the coming months due to the coronavirus crisis, the Palestinian Authority’s Social Development Minister warned yesterday.

Ahmad Majdalani told reporters in Ramallah that some 53,000 families have dropped below the poverty line since the start of the crisis. “This has prompted thousands of enterprises and businesses to impose strict measures to contain the situation,” he explained. This figure is expected to increase by the end of April.

“The PA has started to disburse financial aid to more than 115,000 affected families, 80,000 of whom are in the occupied Gaza Strip,” Majdalani pointed out. He added that the number of families who receive such aid has increased by 10,000.

“Fifty-eight per cent of the aid itself comes from the PA,” said the minister. “Thirty-nine per cent comes from the EU and three per cent comes from the World Bank.”

According to PA Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila, three nurses in Hebron and Ramallah have contracted the virus. She noted that there are 277 cases in the West Bank and Gaza combined, plus another 78 cases in occupied Jerusalem. “Sixty-six of the infected people are males, 34 per cent females,” she added. “Seventy-five were workers [in Israel and the illegal settlements] and 10 per cent of those infected had returned from abroad recently.”

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Shaikh Mohammed Hussein, said recently that all mosques would remain closed during the holy month of Ramadan, due to begin at the end of next week. Congregational prayers will remain suspended.

Since appearing in China late last year, the coronavirus Covid-19 has spread to at least 184 countries. So far, more than two million people worldwide have contracted the virus, of whom more than 134,000 have died. Just over 500,000 have recovered.