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Youth suicide underlines ILO call for action on jobs in the occupied Palestinian territory

The recent suicide of a young jobseeker in Gaza City has highlighted the serious concerns raised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) about the precarious situation of workers in Gaza and the West Bank.

News | 05 September 2012
BEIRUT (ILO News) – The death this week of Ihab Abu Nada, a young Palestinian who set himself on fire after months of desperately looking for a job, is a graphic reminder of the precarious situation of workers in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“The situation of workers in Gaza is one of the worst in the region and the world,” said Nada al-Nashif, ILO’s Regional Director for the Arab States. “Gaza’s growing youth population has a right to better work opportunities and growth with equity. They need decent jobs, a minimum of social protection and respect for their basic rights to ensure a life of dignity.”

In a report issued in June 2012, the ILO warned that the unemployment rate among Palestinians – at 21 per cent – and rising frustration at the stalled peace process could fuel more desperate measures.


  • Overall unemployment 30%, (UN report 2012)
  • Overall youth unemployment 51% (2011)
  • 78.1% young women, 45.7% young men, aged 15 – 24, unemployed
  • 80% of Gazans depend on international aid
Occupied Palestinian Territory

  • Overall unemployment 57% (2012)
  • 53.5% young women, 31.1% young men unemployed
  • 71% of Palestinians are under the age of 30

In 2011, there were 222,000 jobless people in the occupied Palestinian territory, where more than 70 per cent of the population is under the age of 30. The ILO said the situation was ‘extremely worrying’ and called for urgent action.

In Gaza – where Abu Nada died – the unemployment rate is three times the regional average. More than 80 per cent of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents are dependent on international aid and over 40 per cent live in conditions of poverty.

The young man had dropped out of school last year to help his father, a civil servant, provide for their family of eight. He found temporary informal work, washing dishes or peddling packets of potato chips in the street.

Many unskilled young people, like Abu Nada, rely on temporary informal jobs when they can find them. Those who do have university degrees often cannot find jobs that match their skills, forcing many to emigrate.

The ILO report calls for urgent attention in the form of assistance for vocational training, business development and employment directed at young men and women.

It emphasizes that there is no viable or just alternative to ending the occupation and highlights that decent and productive work for all is the best route out of poverty in the occupied Palestinian territory.