World Bank to Grant $30 Million to Palestinians Economically Impacted by Coronavirus

Palestinian workers in the besieged Gaza Strip make protective masks and preventive medical suits at a local factory. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

The World Bank will provide a $30 million grant to assist vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank who have been economically 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 percent, the global body said, a severe downturn after it experienced a one percent 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 percent in the occupied West Bank and 64 percent in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza, with a population of 2 million, has been under a hermetic Israeli siege since 2006, when the Palestinian group Hamas won the democratic legislative elections in occupied Palestine. Since then, Israel has carried out numerous bombing campaigns and several major wars, that resulted in the death of thousands of people. 

520 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday in the West Bank, raising the total in Palestine to 14,458 cases, 11,209 in the West Bank, 75 in the Gaza Strip, and 3,174 in East Jerusalem.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

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