World Bank to grant Palestinian $ 30m welfare grant aid

A group of volunteer youth carry out disinfection work during the coronavirus pandemic in Gaza (Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  July 29, 2020

The World Bank will provide a $ 30 million grant to assist vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank who have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis, reported the Wafa news agency.

The funds will support the creation of jobs and other welfare projects seeking to help the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as the economy in both territories has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, the economic losses of the besieged Gaza Strip were estimated at $ 200 million due to the Israeli siege and the coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge with very severe socio-economic consequences in an already struggling Palestinian economy,” said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.

Shankar said that the global pandemic poses “an unprecedented challenge with grave implications for the already struggling Palestinian economy.”

Overall, the Palestinian economy is set to shrink between 7.6 and 11 per cent, the global body said, a severe downturn after it experience a one per cent growth in 2019.

“Fighting poverty and unemployment is a top priority for the World Bank,” Kanthan added.

“This grant seeks to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on Palestinian households by creating employment alternatives.”

More than a quarter of Palestinians lived in poverty before the virus. The World Bank says the figure has likely risen to 30 per cent in the occupied West Bank and 64 per cent in the Gaza Strip.

Since 2006, Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, where nearly two million Palestinians live, decimating the enclave’s economy, health and education systems.

There are 14,458 cases of coronavirus in Palestine, 11,209 are in the West Bank, 75 in the Gaza Strip and 3,174 in East Jerusalem.