Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Palestine and Palestinian refugees in the Middle East


West Bank and Gaza Strip

President: Mahmoud Abbas (2005)

Prime Minister: Ismail Haniya (2006)

Land area: West Bank: 2,178 sq mi (5,641 sq km); total area: West Bank: 2,263 sq mi (5,860 sq km); Gaza Strip: 139 sq mi (360 sq km)

Population (2006 est.): West Bank: 2,460,492, Gaza Strip: 1,428,757 (growth rate: West Bank: 3.1%, Gaza Strip: 3.7%); birth rate: West Bank: 31.7/1000, Gaza Strip: 39.5/1000; infant mortality rate: West Bank: 19.1/1,000, Gaza Strip: 22.4/1000; life expectancy: West Bank: 73.3, Gaza Strip: 72.0; density per sq mi: West Bank: 1,130, Gaza Strip: 10,279. NOTE: figures above include approximately 8,000 Israeli settlers who evacuated the Gaza Strip in Aug. 2005.

Capital: Undetermined

Large cities (2003 est.): Gaza, 1,331,600 (metro. area), 407,600 (city proper), Hebron, 137,000; Nablus, 115,400

Monetary units: New Israeli shekels, Jordanian dinars, U.S. dollars

Languages: Arabic, Hebrew, English

Ethnicity/race: West Bank: Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%; Gaza Strip: Palestinian Arab and other 99.4%, Jewish 0.6%

Religions: West Bank: Islam 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%; Gaza Strip: Islam 98.7% (predominantly Sunni), Christian 0.7%, Jewish 0.6%.

Economic summary: Gaza Strip: GDP/PPP (2003 est.): $768 million; $600 per capita. Real growth rate: 4.5%. Inflation: 3% (includes West Bank) (2004). Unemployment: 19.9% (includes West Bank) (Jan.–Sept. 2005). Arable land: 29%. Agriculture: olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products. Labor force: 278,000 (April–June 2005); agriculture 11.9%, industry 18%, services 70.1% (April–June 2005). Industries: generally small family businesses that produce cement, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis have established some small-scale, modern industries in the settlements and industrial centers. Natural resources: arable land, natural gas. Exports: $270 million f.o.b (2003, includes West Bank): citrus, flowers, textiles (Gaza Strip); olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone (West Bank). Imports: $1.9 billion (c.i.f., 2002, includes West Bank): food, consumer goods, construction materials. Major trading partners: Israel, Egypt, West Bank. West Bank: GDP/PPP (2003 est.): $1.8 billion; $1,100 per capita. Real growth rate: 6.2% (2004 est.). Arable land: 16.9%. Agriculture: olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products. Labor force: 614,000 (April–June 2005); agriculture 18.4%, industry 24%, services 57.6% (April–June 2005). Natural resource: arable land. Major trading partners: Israel, Jordan, Gaza Strip (2004).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 95,729 (total for Gaza Strip and West Bank) (1997); mobile cellular: Gaza Strip: n.a.; West Bank: n.a. Radio broadcast stations: Gaza Strip: AM 0, FM 0, shortwave 0; West Bank: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (2000). Radios: Gaza Strip: n.a.; West Bank: n.a.; note: most Palestinian households have radios (1999). Television broadcast stations: Gaza Strip: 2 (operated by the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation) (1997); West Bank: n.a. Televisions: Gaza Strip: n.a.; West Bank: n.a.; note: most Palestinian households have televisions (1999). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Gaza Strip: 3; West Bank: 8 (1999). Internet users: 60,000 (total for Gaza Strip and West Bank) (2001).

Transportation: Railways: Gaza Strip: total: n.a.; note: one line, abandoned and in disrepair, little trackage remains; West Bank: 0 km. Highways: Gaza Strip: total: n.a.; paved: n.a.; unpaved: n.a.; note: small, poorly developed road network; West Bank: total: 4,500 km; paved: 2,700 km; unpaved: 1,800 km (1997 est.); note: Israelis have de veloped many highways to service Jewish settlements. Ports and harbors: Gaza Strip: Gaza; West Bank: none. Airports: Gaza Strip: 2 (2001); West Bank: 3 (2002).

International disputes: West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement—permanent status to be determined through further negotiation.


The West Bank is located to the east of Israel and the west of Jordan. The Gaza Strip is located between Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean coast.


The Palestinian Authority (PA), with Yasir Arafat its elected leader, took control of the newly non-Israeli-occupied areas, assuming governmental duties in 1994.


The history of the proposed modern Palestinian state, which is expected to be formed from the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, began with the British Mandate of Palestine. From Sept. 29, 1923, until May 14, 1948, Britain controlled the region, but by 1947, Britain had appealed to the UN to solve the complex problem of competing Palestinian and Jewish claims to the land. In Aug. 1947, the UN proposed dividing Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a small international zone. Arabs rejected the idea. As soon as Britain pulled out of Palestine in 1948, neighboring Arab nations invaded, intent on crushing the newly declared State of Israel. Israel emerged victorious, affirming its sovereignty. The remaining areas of Palestine were divided between Transjordan (now Jordan), which annexed the West Bank, and Egypt, which gained control of the Gaza Strip.

Through a series of political and social policies, Jordan sought to consolidate its control over the political future of Palestinians and to become their speaker. Jordan even extended citizenship to Palestinians in 1949; Palestinians constituted about two-thirds of the country's population. In the Gaza Strip, administered by Egypt from 1948–1967, poverty and unemployment were high, and most of the Palestinians lived in refugee camps.

In the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israel, over a period of six days, defeated the military forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and annexed the territories of East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and all of the Sinai Peninsula. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), formed in 1964, was a terrorist organization bent on Israel's annihilation. Palestinian rioting, demonstrations, and terrorist acts against Israelis became chronic. In 1974, PLO leader Yasir Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly, the first stateless government to do so. Violence again escalated in 1987 during the intifada (“shaking off”), a new era in Palestinian mass mobilization. In 1988, Yasir Arafat publicly eschewed terrorism and officially recognized the state of Israel.

In 1993, highly secretive talks in Norway between the PLO and the Israeli government resulted in the Oslo Accord. The accord stipulated a five-year plan in which Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would gradually become self-governing. On Sept. 13, 1993, Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin signed the historic “Declaration of Principles.” As part of the agreement, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and Jericho in the West Bank in 1994. The Palestinian Authority (PA), with Arafat as its elected leader, took control of the newly non-Israeli-occupied areas, assuming all governmental duties.

Intensive negotiations between Barak and Arafat in 2000 remained deadlocked over Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, which Arafat insisted must be the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the end of September, however, the stalemate disintegrated into the worst violence between Israelis and Palestinians in years, provoked by Likud hard-liner Ariel Sharon's visit to the compound called Temple Mount by Jews and Haram al-Sharif by Muslims. The compound is a fiercely contested site that is sacred to both faiths. The intensified violence, which included an unprecedented number of Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians and the inevitable Israeli military reprisals, was dubbed the al-Aksa intifada. In four years (2000–2004), the intifada had led to the deaths of almost 4,000, including nearly 3,000 Palestinians.

For five months in 2002, Israeli troops surrounded Yasir Arafat at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah. Prime Minister Sharon, blaming Arafat directly for inciting terror, called for his expulsion from the territories. Washington echoed Israel's view that Arafat had become “irrelevant” and announced that the U.S. would not recognize an independent Palestinian state until Arafat was replaced. Throughout the summer, Palestinian suicide bombings (Hamas and the Al-Aksa Martyr Brigade claimed responsibility for the majority of them) and Israeli reprisals continued. In March 2003, Arafat agreed to political reforms: his government, to the disillusionment of many Palestinians, was rife with corruption. He also agreed to share power with a prime minister. Mahmoud Abbas, second-in-command of the PLO, assumed the post in April.

Unlike Arafat, Abbas emphatically rejected the Palestinian intifada, but he had no influence or control over Palestinian militant groups the way Arafat did. On May 1, the Quartet (the U.S., UN, EU, and Russia) unfurled its “road map” for peace, which called on both sides to make concessions and end the wave of deadly violence. But the road map quickly led nowhere: Abbas, with little real political power, could not disable terrorist organizations, and Israel did not dismantle settlements, much less prevent new ones from cropping up. Sharon also continued to build the controversial security barrier that divides Israeli and Palestinian areas. Abbas resigned in September, and Arafat appointed a new prime minister, Ahmed Qurei.

On March 22, 2004, Israel assassinated Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. In the previous six month, Israel had killed more than 20 Hamas officials and vowed to destroy the entire leadership. Within months, Israel had assassinated Yassin's successor as well.

In July 2004, Israel revised the route of its security barrier so that it no longer cut into Palestinian land. The UN estimated that the original route would have taken almost 15% of West Bank territory for Israel. The new route was also meant to limit undue hardships, such as separating Palestinian villagers from their farmland.

On Nov. 10, Yasir Arafat died, marking the end of an era in Palestinian affairs. On Jan. 9, 2005, former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) was easily elected president with 62% of the vote. At a summit in February, Abbas and Israeli prime minister Sharon agreed to an unequivocal cease-fire, the most promising move toward peace in the four years since the intifada began.

On Aug. 15, 2005, the withdrawal of some 8,000 Israeli settlers from Gaza began. Two years earlier, Sharon had announced his plan for Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In turn, Israel was to hold on to large blocks of land in the West Bank and reject the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. The Israeli evacuation involved 21 Gaza settlements as well as four of the more isolated of the West Bank's 120 settlements. Gaza, which has the world's highest population density, gained 25% more land and plans on replacing the settlers' single-family houses with apartment buildings to alleviate a severe housing shortage. A private group of American philanthropists purchased 800 acres of greenhouses from the departing settlers and donated them to the Palestinians, preserving an important source of jobs and revenue in an area with 40% unemployment.

Palestinian elections on Jan. 25, 2006, resulted in a stunning and unexpected landslide victory for Hamas (74 of the 132 parliamentary seats) over the ruling Fatah Party, and in February, Ismail Haniya, a centrist Hamas leader, became prime minister. Most assessments indicate that Palestinians, weary of Fatah's mismanagement and widespread corruption, chose Hamas because it promised internal reform—Hamas's well-run social services network provides Palestinians with much-needed education and health care—and not because of its militant policies toward Israel. According to a PA poll, 75% of Palestinians who voted for Hamas supported a peace deal with Israel. Although Hamas had been engaged in a cease-fire with Israel for more than a year, it continued to call for Israel's destruction and refused to renounce violence. As a result, Western donor countries cut off direct aid to the Hamas-run government. By September, the humanitarian crisis was desperate, with 70% of Gaza's population lacking enough food each day.

In June, the yearlong cease-fire with Israel ended. After Hamas militants killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped another on June 25, Israel launched air strikes and sent ground troops into Gaza, destroying its only power plant and three bridges. Israel also arrested many of Hamas's elected officials. Fighting continued in July, with Hamas firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli troops killing about 200 Palestinians in June and July.

In December, after months of fruitlessly attempting to form unity government, Hamas and Farah turned on each other. Street fights and shootings broke out between the various factions in Gaza for more than a week until a ceasefire called by President Abbas (Fatah) and Prime Minister Haniya (Hamas).

All the information shown above has been taken from the following web page http://geography.about.

All the information provided below has been taken from the web page of UNRWA the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - http://www.un.org/unrwa/


UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) is a relief and human development agency, providing education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid to over 4.3 million refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab republic.

UNRWA is by far the largest UN operation in the Middle East, with over 27,000 staff, almost all of them refugees themselves, working directly to benefit their communities - as teachers, doctors, nurses or social workers.


"Under UNRWA's operational definition, Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948. The number of registered Palestine refugees has subsequently grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than 4.3 million in 2005, and continues to rise due to natural population growth.


One-third of the registered Palestine refugees, about 1.3 million, live in 59 recognized refugee camps in the area of operations in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A camp, according to UNRWA's working definition, is a plot of land placed at the disposal of UNRWA by the host government for accommodating Palestine refugees and for setting up facilities to cater to their needs. Areas not designated as such are not considered camps. However, UNRWA also maintains schools, health centres and distributions centres in areas outside camps where Palestine refugees are concentrated, such as Yarmouk near Damascus.

The plots of land on which camps were set up are either state land or, in most cases, land leased by the host government from local landowners. This means that the refugees in camps do not "own" the land on which their shelters were built, but have the right to "use" the land for a residence.

UNRWA's responsibility in the camps is limited to providing services and administering its installations. The Agency does not own, administer or police the camps as this is the responsibility of the host authorities. UNRWA has a camp services office in each camp, which the residents visit to update their records or to raise issues relating to Agency services with the Camp Services Officer (CSO). The CSO, in turn, refers refugee concerns and petitions to the UNRWA administration in the area in which the camp is located.

Ten of the camps were established in the aftermath of the June 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to accommodate a new wave of displaced persons, both refugees and non-refugees.

Socio-economic conditions in the camps are generally poor with a high population density, cramped living conditions and inadequate basic infrastructure such as roads and sewers.

The other two-thirds of the registered refugees live in and around the cities and towns of the host countries, and in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, often in the environs of official camps. While most of UNRWA's installations such as schools and health centres are located in refugee camps, a number are outside camps and all of the Agency's services are available to both camp and non-camp residents.






Mar Elias


Burj el-Barajneh






Ein el-Hilweh


Mieh Mieh






Burj el-Shemali


Nahr el-Bared






Dikwaneh & Nabatieh (destroyed camps)


+ 9,595 refugees distributed throughout the camps.

[click on each camp name on the map for a profile of the camp]
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Of the original 16 official camps in Lebanon, three were destroyed during the years of conflict and were never rebuilt or replaced: Nabatieh camp in south Lebanon, and Dikwaneh and Jisr el-Basha camps in the Beirut area. Most of the displaced refugees in Lebanon, approximately 6,000 families, are originally from these three camps. A fourth camp, Gouraud in Baalbeck, was evacuated many years ago and its inhabitants were transferred to Rashidieh camp in the Tyre area.

Today, all 12 official refugee camps in the Lebanon Field suffer from serious problems - no proper infrastructure, overcrowding, poverty and unemployment. The Lebanon Field has the highest percentage of Palestine refugees who are living in abject poverty and who are registered with the Agency's "special hardship" programme.

The number of Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon is currently 394,532, or an estimated 10 per cent of the population of Lebanon, a small country which is now quite densely populated.

Palestine refugees in Lebanon face specific problems. They do not have social and civil rights, and have very limited access to the government's public health or educational facilities and no access to public social services. The majority rely entirely on UNRWA as the sole provider of education, health and relief and social services. Considered as foreigners, Palestine refugees are prohibited by law from working in more than 70 trades and professions. This has led to a very high rate of unemployment amongst the refugee population.

Popular committees in the camps representing the refugees regularly discuss these problems with the Lebanese Government or with UNRWA officials, and they call for better living conditions for the refugees.


  • Total registered refugees – 394,532
  • Registered camp population – 223,956
  • Official camps - 12
  • Elementary and preparatory schools - 81
  • Secondary schools - 5
  • Enrolled pupils (2003/2004) – 41,583
  • Primary health care facilities - 25
  • Refugees registered as special hardship cases - 46,235
  • Number of UNRWA Field Office Area staff posts - 2,629

Figures as of 31 December 2003





Khan Eshieh


Khan Dunoun




Qabr Essit












"Unofficial" camps





Ein al-Tal


[click on each camp name on the map for a profile of the camp]
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Most of the Palestine refugees who fled to the Syrian Arab Republic as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict were from the northern part of Palestine, mainly from Safad and the cities of Haifa and Jaffa.

In 1967, over 100,000 people, including Palestine refugees, fled from the Golan Heights to other parts of Syria when the area was occupied by Israel. A few thousand refugees fleeing war-torn Lebanon in 1982 also took refuge in Syria.

In Syria, Palestine refugees have access to government services such as government-run schools, universities and hospitals. UNRWA's services complement those of the Syrian Government. While the Syrian Government has taken on the responsibility for providing basic utilities in the camps, UNRWA provides basic environmental health services, including sewage disposal, collection and disposal of solid waste, and control of insect and rodent infestation. However, many of the water and sewerage systems are in need of upgrading, while some camps still lack networks altogether. Poor sanitation in the camps poses health risks for the refugees. In most of the refugee camps shelters remain very basic, and many require structural rehabilitation.

UNRWA-run schools provide basic elementary and preparatory education and follow the national curriculum of the Syrian Ministry of Education. UNRWA also runs a vocational training centre in Damascus, which prepares young refugees for employment by equipping them with marketable skills. More than 11,563 trainees (at both the post-preparatory and post-secondary levels) have graduated from the centre since its opening in 1961.

In the area of health, UNRWA provides preventive and curative services through a network primary health centres.

UNRWA sponsors women's programme centres and community rehabilitation centres, and supports refugees in special hardship with additional assistance.

UNRWA cooperates with the General Administration for Palestine Arab Refugees (GAPAR), a department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which was established in 1950.


  • Total registered refugees - 417,346
  • Number of camps - 10
  • Registered refugees living in camps -110,450 (excluding 16,848 registered refugees in Jaramana unofficial camp).
  • Refugees registered as Special Hardship Cases- 31,288
  • Elementary & preparatory schools - 115
  • Number of pupils (2001/2002) - 63,950
  • Vocational training centre - 1
  • Primary health centres - 23
  • Community rehabilitation centres - 5
  • Women's programme centres - 15
  • Income-generation projects - 497
  • Number of UNRWA Area posts - 3,164

Figures as of 30 June 2002







Amman New Camp




Jabal el-Hussein














+ 87 refugees distributed throughout the camps.

[click on each camp name on the map for a profile of the camp]

Ten official Palestine refugee camps are located in Jordan. They accommodate 283,183 registered refugees, or 16 per cent of the 1.7 million refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan. Four of the camps were set up on the east bank of the Jordan River after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and six after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In addition, there are three neighbourhoods in Amman, Zarqa and Madaba which are considered camps by the Government of Jordan, and "unofficial" camps by UNRWA. The population of the ten camps, the three "unofficial" camps and the refugees residing in the vicinity of camps live under similar socio-economic conditions and together make up an estimated 65 per cent of the Palestine refugees in Jordan.

In 1948, an estimated 100,000 refugees crossed the Jordan River and initially took shelter in temporary camps, in mosques and schools, or in towns and villages. International organizations, mainly the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), provided emergency assistance for the refugees until May 1950 when UNRWA started its operations.

The first camp, Zarqa, was set up in 1949 by the ICRC, where a large number of the refugees had gathered near the town of Zarqa, some 25 kilometers north east of Amman. Between 1951-1954 three more camps were set up; two in the Amman area and one in Irbid, north Jordan.

The refugees were accommodated in tents until the late 1950s when UNRWA replaced the tents with more durable shelters. Each new shelter was a brick room with asbestos roofing. A family of 4-5 members had one room of 12 square metres, and a family of 6-8 had two rooms on a plot of land not exceeding 80-100 square metres. The refugees were able to construct additional rooms as the family grew by birth and marriage. However, with the fourth generation of refugees now becoming adults, the shelters and surrounding plots of land have become fully utilized as living space so that the camps today are highly congested and overcrowded.

Many of the camps are now surrounded by residential areas as a result of the growth in the Jordanian population and the subsequent development of the towns and cities. The camps have developed into quarters resembling the neighbourhoods around them due to the refugees themselves who have worked hard to improve their conditions and to the Government of Jordan, which has invested large amounts of funds to provide the camps with basic infrastructure.

In 1967 following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip there was another influx of refugees into Jordan. Some 140,000 persons, already registered refugees with UNRWA, were part of the new exodus together with about 240,000 citizens of the West Bank who are referred to as "displaced persons" (the West Bank was administered by Jordan between 1948-1967). These new refugees took shelter in temporary camps in the Jordan Valley. When military operations escalated in the area they had to be moved to safer areas elsewhere in Jordan. In early 1968, six tented "emergency" camps were established for these refugees and displaced persons. UNRWA later replaced the tents with pre-fabricated shelters and the refugees themselves have now replaced the prefabs with concrete structures. Although there has been enormous improvements in the " 1967 emergency" camps over the years, they remain less developed than those established in the 1950s. Some of them lack basic infrastructure and public services, especially the camps in remote areas.

UNRWA coordinates with the Jordanian government's Department of Palestinian Affairs (DPA) as well as with the camps' improvement committees. Members of these committees are selected by the DPA from amongst community leaders and refugee notables who in effect take on the role of municipal councils.

The infrastructure of the camps is primarily the responsibility of the host government. However, UNRWA's sanitation and technical departments work hand-in-hand with the DPA and camp committees to help improve roads, pathways and drainage.

All Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan, whether they live in camps or outside camps, are eligible for UNRWA services. However, those living in or near camps, generally the poorest of the refugees, have easier access to Agency services.

All Palestine refugees in Jordan have full Jordanian citizenship with the exception of about 120,000 refugees originally from the Gaza Strip, which up to 1967 was administered by Egypt. They are eligible for temporary Jordanian passports, which do not entitle them to full citizenship rights such as the right to vote and employment with the government.

UNRWA Headquarters Amman and the UNRWA Jordan Field Office are both located in Amman.


  • Total registered refugees - 1,780,701
  • Registered camp population - 283,183
  • Number of camps - 10
  • Elementary and preparatory schools - 177
  • Number of enrolled pupils (2004/2005) – 131,155
  • Centres for pupils with learning difficulties - 8
  • Vocational Training Centres - 2
    (Wadi Seer and Amman Training Centre)
  • Primary health care facilities - 23
  • Refugees registered as special hardship cases - 46,953
  • Women's programme centres - 21
  • Community rehabilitation centres - 10
  • Number of UNRWA area staff posts (Field &HQ) - 6,669

Figures as of 31 March 2005





Aqabat Jabr


Ein el-Sultan








Deir Ammar












Beit Jibrin




Camp No.1








Nur Shams




+ 4,458 ex Gaza refugees distributed throughout the camps.

[click on each camp name on the map for a profile of the camp]
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The West Bank covers 5,500 square kilometers with an estimated population of 1.8 million. Approximately, one quarter of the refugees live in nineteen recognized refugee camps and the majority live in West Bank towns and villages. Some camps are located next to major towns and others are situated in rural areas. While the West Bank has the largest number of camps in UNRWA's five fields of operations, the largest camp, Balata, has a similar size population to the smallest camp in Gaza.

After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and subsequent related agreements, the West Bank refugee camps gradually came under different zones: Shufat camp, which is situated within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, remained under Israeli control. Kalandia camp fell under "zone C" and remained under full Israeli control; six camps: Deir Ammar, Jalazone, Fawwar, Arroub, Far'a and Nur Shams, fell under joint Palestinian/Israeli control (zone B); and the remaining eleven camps fell under exclusive Palestinian Authority control (zone A). Following the implementation of the first phase of the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, Far'a and Nur Shams came under "zone A" raising the total number of camps under full Palestinian Authority control to thirteen.

Camp residents have been hard hit by closures imposed on the West Bank by the Israeli authorities, since they are largely dependent on income from work inside Israel. Subsequently, unemployment has risen and socio-economic conditions in the camps have deteriorated.

The West Bank camps are active social units. While UNRWA does not administer the camps, the Agency only administers its own installations and programmes. Camp residents run their own activities and camp committees in each camp are regarded as an official body representing the camp population. UNRWA sponsors a number of women's programme centres, community rehabilitation centres, and supports youth activities centres to cater to the needs of women, refugees with disabilities and youth. Several Palestinian NGOs as well as Palestinian Authority ministries are active in the West Bank camps and provide various services.

The Agency runs elementary and preparatory schools. However, the main problem facing UNRWA's education programme in the West Bank is overcrowding with an average of 50 pupils per classroom. Due to the growth in the school population and the shortage of school buildings, 24 schools are run on a double shift basis, i.e. they share the same school building, and 21 schools operate in rented premises. In addition, many schools have been damaged by Israeli military activity since September 2000.

The Agency runs a network of primary health care facilities and a 43-bed hospital in the town of Qalqilia. A major problem facing the Agency's health programme, as in other fields, is the high number of daily patients' visits to the health centres and the heavy workload of doctors and other health staff. The average number of patient visits per doctor per day is 89.


  • Number of Schools: 96
  • Number of students: Elementary and Preparatory 60,004
  • Number of registered in the West Bank 687,542.
  • Number of registered refugees living inside the camps 181241
  • Number of Health Centers: 17 inside the camps, 5 outside the camps.
  • Number of loans awarded 15,663
  • Value of loans awarded (cumulative USD 17,944,959

Figures as of 31 March 2005













Khan Younis






Deir el-Balah


[click on each camp name on the map for a profile of the camp]
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The Gaza Strip is unique amongst UNRWA's five fields of operations as the majority of its population is refugees and over half of the refugees live in eight camps. Most of the people who fled to the Gaza Strip as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war were from Jaffa, towns and villages south of Jaffa, and from the Beersheva area in the Negev. In all, some 200,000 refugees came to Gaza, whose original inhabitants numbered only 80,000. Such an influx severely burdened this narrow strip of land; an area of only 360 square kilometers. Over three-quarters of the current estimated population of some 1.4 million are registered refugees; representing 22.42 per cent of all UNRWA registered Palestine refugees.

The refugee camps in the Gaza Strip have one of the highest population densities in the world. For example, over 78,700 refugees live in Beach camp whose area is less than one square kilometer. This high population density is reflected in the overcrowded UNRWA schools and classrooms. More than 2,066 new pupils registered in the Agency's schools for the year 2004/2005. In average, 81% of the camps houses are connected to sewers while total area of paved roads and alleys is 385,000m2 .

UNRWA Headquarters (Gaza) and the UNRWA Gaza Field Office are located in Gaza City. The Agency co-operates its humanitarian work with the Palestinian Authority, which was established in 1994.


· Total registered refugees – 993,818

· Registered camp population – 474,130

· Number of camps - 8

· Elementary and preparatory schools - 187

· Enrolled pupils for 2005/2006 – 192,105

· Primary health care facilities - 18

· Number of refugees registered as special hardship cases – 83,613

· Number of UNRWA Field Office Area staff posts – 9,715

Figures as of 31 March 2006

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