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Gaza economic recovery to take decades: UN

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A United Nations agency is predicting that economic recovery in Gaza will take decades after suffering “an unprecedented scale of death and destruction.”

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a preliminary assessment last month on the economic impact the Israel-Hamas war has had on Gaza. Overall, it found that Gaza’s economy, measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), plummeted by 24 percent in 2023.

By the end of last year, the report found, 79 percent of Gaza’s labor force was unemployed as the territory continued to be bombarded by Israeli retaliatory attacks following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that left about 1,200 people dead.

“As a result of the military operation, economic activity across all productive sectors in Gaza ground to a halt, except for minimum health and food services provided under conditions of severe water, fuel and electricity shortages,” the assessment stated.

“UNCTAD early estimates show precipitous declines in living conditions, declining GDP per capita, soaring poverty and unemployment, among other socioeconomic challenges,” the assessment continued.

Assuming that the Israeli military operation in Gaza ends immediately, the GDP grows 10 percent annually and population grows 2.8 percent annually, the assessment said the GDP per capita of Gaza would return to its 2022 level by 2028, its 2006 levels in 2035 and its 1994 level by 2037.

However, the assessment noted that this was an optimistic outlook. If Gaza continued its 2007-22 trend of adding 0.4 percent GDP growth annually, the assessment said it would take 70 years for Gaza to restore the GDP levels of 2022.

“A new phase of economic rehabilitation predicated on peacebuilding cannot simply take as its goal a return to the pre-October 2023 status quo. Only by ending the military confrontation and fully lifting the blockade of Gaza can there be hope to resolve sustainably the political, socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis engulfing Gaza,” the assessment stated.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has reported that more than 26,000 people in Gaza have been killed in the conflict so far, according to The Associated Press. In addition, more than 1.9 million people are estimated to have been displaced by the war.

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