Gaza has the world's highest unemployment rate, according to a new report from the World Bank, which warns that the local economy is on the "verge of collapse" nearly year after last summer's 50-day war, The Telegraph has reported.
Joblessness in the tiny coastal strip now stands at 44 per cent, outstripping that of Mauritania – the world's previous worst unemployment blackspot, which recorded 31 per cent out of work in 2013.
The picture is even worse for those aged 20-24, among whom 68 per cent are said to be without jobs.
The 36-page report highlights in graphic terms how the territory's economy has been devastated over a 20-year period by successive conflicts, bad governance and – since 2007 – blockades imposed by neighboring Israel and Egypt, both of whom are at loggerheads with its Hamas rulers.
Last year's war between Israel and Hamas – which led to the deaths of nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side – cut £296 million from the local gross domestic product (GDP). The percentage of the population living in poverty rose from 28 to 39 per cent while four out of five are now dependent on foreign aid.
“Gaza’s unemployment and poverty figures are very troubling and the economic outlook is worrying,” said Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.
“The current market in Gaza is not able to offer jobs leaving a large population in despair, particularly the youth. The ongoing blockade and the 2014 war have taken a toll on Gaza’s economy and people's livelihoods."
The territory's exports had virtually disappeared while its manufacturing sector had shrunk by around 60 per cent since war, he added.