Gaza: Youth Unemployment

Debate tabled by Simon Danczuk MP on 16th December 2016

2. What information her Department holds on the level of youth unemployment in Gaza; and if she will make a statement. [902749]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr Desmond Swayne)

Gaza has the highest unemployment in the world. The World Bank estimates that youth unemployment had reached 60% by the end of 2014. Extensive restrictions inhibit employment. The UK continues to promote economic development and private sector-led growth.

Simon Danczuk

Gaza still faces restrictions on access to 35% of its agricultural land and 85% of its fishable waters, and Gazans are rarely allowed to travel outside their territory. Until such restrictions are removed, DFID will continue to work with one hand tied behind its back. Does the Minister not agree that the real problem is the blockade of Gaza?

Mr Swayne

As I said, the restrictions inhibit employment, but we will not give up. We have a programme for economic development, and it is making progress—slow and frustrating progress, but progress none the less.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab)

May I make it absolutely clear that supporting the Palestinian people has nothing whatever to do with anti-Semitism? I wanted to clarify that at the outset.

Does the Minister not agree that the appalling situation in Gaza—and he has given us the figures—shows the need for the developed democracies to do far more? What hope can there be for the Palestinian people when they are faced with so little hope of obtaining jobs and having a decent life? Should we not be far more concerned with the Palestinian tragedy than we are?

Mr Swayne

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. We do everything that we can diplomatically to raise the sights of the world community, and we will continue to do so.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)

Does my hon. Friend not agree that the ill-considered, short-sighted campaign for boycotts and disinvestment is actually leading to more unemployment among the Palestinian people?

Mr Swayne

The problem faced by Gaza is restrictions, and the extension of restriction by any means is a block to peace.