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Workers' state deteriorating in W Asia: ILO

May 23, 2008 13:35 IST

With the rise in working poverty rates and genuine employment declining, the situation for workers is deteriorating in occupied Arab territories of West-Asia, International Labour Organisation has said.

In its annual report, released on Thursday, ILO finds that only one in three people of working age living in the occupied Arab territories -- including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights -- was employed for all or part of the time.

The unemployment rate is now hovering around 20 per cent mark, report says.

The report, based on missions to the region earlier this year, also finds that about half of all Palestinian households are dependent on food assistance from the international community and that their number has increased after the recent worldwide spike in the price of many basic foods.

In November last year, about 40 per cent of the population in Gaza and 19 per cent in the West Bank were classed as living in extreme poverty  slight improvement on the comparable figures from a year earlier after the

Palestinian Authority was able to resume wage payments to civil servants.

The report, prepared by the International Labour Office -- the Geneva-based ILO secretariat -- voices concern over the growing gap between the hopes and aims of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and the reality on the ground.

"With the devastation of military action, and the continued restrictions on movement (by the Israelis), there is no doubt that economic and social hardship is mounting in the occupied Arab territories," it says, adding that the problems are compounded by the "systematic disregard" of Arab workers' right to equality of opportunity and treatment in employment.

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