ILO Head Calls for Job-Rich Recovery in Gaza Amidst Unprecedented Crisis

“I strongly believe that there is a way for Palestinian daily workers in Israel to resume their work. The conclusion of a prompt agreement authorizing such action could be a major step forward,” Houngbo added.


Devdiscourse News Desk | Geneva | Updated: 07-06-2024 12:44 IST | Created: 07-06-2024 12:44 IST
ILO Head Calls for Job-Rich Recovery in Gaza Amidst Unprecedented Crisis
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The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Gilbert F. Houngbo, has described the situation in Gaza as “particularly catastrophic,” emphasizing the urgent need to prepare for a job-rich restoration of infrastructure and services grounded in a commitment to decent work. However, he noted that this would not be achievable “without an end to the current war and the release of all hostages.”

During a Special Sitting on the Situation of Workers of the occupied Arab territories (OAT) held at the 112th International Labour Conference (ILC), Houngbo remarked, “This has been the hardest year for Palestinian workers since 1967. Never before has the situation been this bleak.”

He referenced the unprecedented loss of Palestinian civilian lives in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and highlighted the severe impact on the Gaza labour market, already stifled by 17 years of blockade. He noted that since October 2023, an estimated 200,000 jobs have been lost in Gaza, equivalent to more than two-thirds of total employment in the enclave.

“In the wake of the horrific Hamas-led atrocities against Israel and the ensuing relentless war waged by Israel, the labour market in Gaza has literally collapsed. Gaza is in ruins. Livelihoods are shattered and work is scarce. Labour rights have been decimated,” Houngbo stated.

He stressed the importance of focusing on job creation and decent work in rebuilding infrastructure and services, alongside the need for quickly expanding social protection initiatives. He also emphasized that social dialogue will be vital in planning and implementing measures for recovery and resilience, and that labour rights must be upheld.

Houngbo also addressed the challenges faced by workers in the occupied West Bank, where the economy is in deep crisis and the unemployment rate has more than doubled since October 2023. He noted similar issues in the occupied Syrian Golan, where increasing Israeli settlement activity exacerbates the sense of unequal treatment of Syrian citizens.

“I strongly believe that there is a way for Palestinian daily workers in Israel to resume their work. The conclusion of a prompt agreement authorizing such action could be a major step forward,” Houngbo added.

At its 350th Session in March 2024, the ILO Governing Body recommended that the Appendix to the Report of the Director-General on The situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories be discussed at a special sitting during the ILC. This marks the first time the Conference has held a special sitting on the subject since 2003.

In response to the crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the ILO has initiated a US$20 million Emergency Response Programme to mitigate the impact of the war on Palestinian workers and employers. It is currently supporting Palestinian workers from Gaza stranded in the West Bank and has launched an emergency employment scheme with the United Nations Development Programme to support those most affected in Gaza.  

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