To ask the Minister of State for International Development what assessment the Department has made of the level of poverty of the Palestinian people; and what strategy he is pursuing to alleviate it. 
Poverty in the West Bank and Gaza has increased dramatically since the intifada started in September 2000. According to a recent World Bank assessment, some 60 per cent. of Palestinians are now living on less than $2 a day. Unemployment stands at 53 per cent. and many families are now dependent on food aid. A study by UNICEF has also found the incidence of acute malnutrition in Gaza (13.3 per cent.) is comparable to levels in Zimbabwe (13 per cent.) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (13.9 per cent.). Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries also live in unacceptable circumstances.The key element of any strategy to reduce poverty sustainably is a successful peaceprocess leading to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living in peacealongside a secure Israel. Our programme in the West Bank and Gaza provides support for the peace process; capacity building and institutional development; improvements to basic services, and a range of emergency programmes arising from the current conflict.