Amidst high unemployment rates, UNRWA provides opportunities for youths

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The Gaza Strip has one of the highest unemployment rates world-wide, according to the World Bank. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the overall unemployment rate stood at 38.4 per cent, as reported by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). While the rate declined by 4.3 percentage points compared to the previous quarter, joblessness remains high in Gaza, particularly amongst youth, with an average unemployment rate of almost 63 per cent and 66.3 per cent for refugee youth. The numbers are more dire for women: in the third quarter of 2015, the PCBS reports a rate of over 84 per cent.

Against the backdrop of a society already torn by repeated conflicts, wide-spread poverty, heightening vulnerability and political instability within the occupied Palestinian territory, youth unemployment can increase frustration, anger and feelings of hopelessness, and can lead to depression.

UNRWA contributes to mitigating the impact of these difficult socio-economic circumstances through various employment-related interventions. Focusing on youth in particular, the Agency provides skills-based training through its two vocational training centres in Gaza city and Khan Younis to increase the chances of youths in the highly-competitive Gaza job market.

UNRWA also provides regular employment opportunities for talented and motivated youths. 23-year old Ahmad Al Attar, who since January 2016 worked as a clerk in the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired (RCVI) in Gaza city, considers himself lucky to be able to contribute to his family’s household through a job with UNRWA.

“Since I have this job, I feel my family trusts me more; I have now more responsibility towards them, as I contribute to the household,” he said proudly.

Ahmad struggled in the past. When he was only five years old, he suffered an accident resulting in a disability lasting for life. After the accident, he said, he lost his self-esteem and self-confidence.

“I felt like a loser; I was not motivated and felt depressed. But then one day I decided to stand up, focus on education and pursue my dreams, despite all odds. My family – especially my brothers and sisters – and UNRWA teachers were very supportive of me,” Ahmed recalled.

After graduating in Development Planning from the University of Applied Sciences in Gaza in September 2015, Ahmad worked for a Community-Based Rehabilitation Centre in Rafah, southern Gaza, for three months, until he found an employment opportunity with UNRWA.

“At RCVI, I work as a clerk and have mostly managerial and administrative tasks. However, in the morning I join the bus with all the visually impaired children coming to school here, and I help them and advise them as much as I can,” Ahmad said, smiling. “I wish for the young people of Gaza to have the same opportunity, and to live in peace and safety; I hope they all also get a chance to follow their dreams in life.”

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

Milina Shahin
Public Information Officer - Gaza Field Office
Mobile: +972 599 609 485
Office: +972 8 2887213