The overwhelming majority of Palestinians live in the Middle East. UNRWA operates in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory. There are also sizeable numbers of refugees living in Iraq, Egypt and outside the Middle East.
More than two million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA. Unlike any other host country, Jordan granted Palestinian refugees full citizenship rights, except for 120,000 people who originally came from the Gaza Strip. There are 10 official and three unofficial refugee camps in Jordan.
Most Palestine refugees in Jordan, but not all, have full citizenship. There are ten recognized Palestine refugee camps throughout the country, which accommodate nearly 370,000 Palestine refugees, or 18 per cent of the country total. Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestine refugees of all of the UNWRA fields.
Nearly ten thousand Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) have sought assistance from UNRWA in Jordan. The majority of them are believed to suffer from abject poverty and live in a precarious legal status. UNRWA is working to accommodate PRS children in its schools and to provide relief and health care to those in need.
Around 450,000 Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA. Given their condition as stateless, Palestinians in Lebanon are denied many basic rights. For instance, they are barred from around 20 professions and have no access to public social services. Even access to health and educational services is limited, often rendering registered refugees heavily dependent on UNRWA. Around 3,000 Palestinians in Lebanon are not registered with UNRWA and have no other form of identity documents. They are barred from practically every form of assistance, and survive thanks to NGOs.
Some 450,000 refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, with many living in the country’s 12 refugee camps.
Palestine refugees represent an estimated ten per cent of the population of Lebanon. They do not enjoy several important rights; for example, they cannot work in as many as 20 professions. Because they are not formally citizens of another state, Palestine refugees are unable to claim the same rights as other foreigners living and working in Lebanon. Among the five UNRWA fields, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestine refugees living in abject poverty.
Around 53 per cent of the Palestine refugees in Lebanon live in the 12 recognized Palestine refugee camps, all of which suffer from serious problems, including poverty, overcrowding, unemployment, poor housing conditions and lack of infrastructure. Three other camps were destroyed during the course of the Lebanese Civil War, while a fourth was evacuated many years ago.
The ongoing conflict in Syria has forced many Palestine refugees from that country, including men, women and children, to flee to Lebanon in search of safety. UNRWA is working to adjust to their numbers and their needs - including for education, health care, shelter and relief.
Even before the outbreak of the current conflict, in 2011, Palestine refugees in Syria were a vulnerable population. Although they had many of the rights of Syrian citizens - including access to social services provided by the Government of Syria - Palestine refugees lagged behind the host population in key development indicators. The community had higher rates of infant mortality and lower rates of school enrolment, for example, and their long-term future was uncertain.
Palestine refugees have also been vulnerable to the ongoing conflict, as violence has increasingly enroached upon the Palestine refugee camps. Many have been displaced within Syria, while thousands of others have fled to neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan. The situation remains volatile, with numbers and needs constantly changing, but despite the many challenges, UNRWA is continuing its emergency relief, health and education services in Syria. In Lebanon and Jordan, the Agency is also trying to provide for the needs of those fleeing the conflict.
More information about the current situation in Syria is avilable here.
Before the conflict broke out, the UNRWA situation in Syria was very different:
Most of the Palestine refugees who fled to the Syrian Arab Republic in 1948 were from the northern part of Palestine, mainly from Safad and the cities of Haifa and Jaffa. A further 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. UNRWA works closely with the General Administration for Palestine Arab Refugees (GAPAR), a department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which was established in 1950, and has worked with other government departments to maintain its services for Palestine refugees.
An estimated 1.3 million Palestinians out of Gaza’s population are UNRWA-registered refugees.
There are eight UNRWA-administered camps in the Gaza Strip.
As a result of Israel’s occupation since 1967 and an ongoing blockade on the Gaza Strip, the population suffers severe economic problems.
UNRWA’s activities in the Gaza Strip have been severely restricted by the blockade.
The Gaza Strip is home to a population of approximately 1.9 million people, including 1.3 millioUNRn Palestine refugees.
For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline. The blockade on land, air and sea imposed by Israel following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, entered its 10th year in June 2016 and continues to have a devastating effect as access to markets and people’s movement to and from the Gaza Strip remain severely restricted.
Years of conflict and blockade have left 80 per cent of the population dependent on international assistance. The economy and its capacity to create jobs have been devastated, resulting in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well-educated society. The average unemployment rate is well over 41 per cent – one of the highest in the world, according to the World Bank. The number of Palestine refugees relying on UNRWA for food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in 2000 to almost one million today.
Over half a million Palestine refugees in Gaza live in the eight recognized Palestine refugee camps, which have one of the highest population densities in the world.
Operating through approximately 12,500 staff in over 300 installations across the Gaza Strip, UNRWA delivers education, health and mental health care, relief and social services, microcredit and emergency assistance to registered Palestine refugees.
On 7 July 2014, a humanitarian emergency was declared by UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, following a severe escalation in hostilities, involving intense Israeli aerial and navy bombardment and Palestinian rocket fire. Hostilities de-escalated following an open-ended ceasefire which entered into force on 26 August 2014. The scale of human loss, destruction, devastation and displacement caused by this third conflict within seven years was catastrophic, unprecedented and unparalleled in Gaza.
UNRWA mounted an extraordinary response during the 50 days of hostilities which highlighted its unique position as the largest UN organization in the Gaza Strip and the only UN Agency that undertakes direct implementation.
The human, social and economic costs of the last hostilities are sit against a backdrop of a society already torn by wide-spread poverty, frustration and anger, heightening vulnerability and political instability. The compounded effects of the blockade and repeated armed conflicts and violence have also had a less visible, but quite profound, psychological impact on the people of Gaza. Among Palestine refugee children, UNRWA estimates that a minimum of 30 per cent require some form of structured psychosocial intervention. Their most common symptoms are: nightmares, eating disorders, intense fear, bed wetting.
In recent years, UNRWA has made significant improvements to its services in Gaza, such as its schools of excellence and excellent health services initiatives. It also better targets its assistance to the poorest of the poor through the implementation of a proxy-means tested poverty survey. UNRWA continues to:
Improve the academic achievement, behaviour and values of school students
Construct desperately needed infrastructure, including schools and shelters
Improve the quality and targeting of its food and cash assistance to the poorest of the poor
Promote gender equality and human rights for all
Nurture entrepreneurship by supporting the private sector
Over 800,000 Palestinians are registered with UNRWA.
There are 19 overcrowded and poorly serviced camps.
The ongoing occupation and military checkpoints and closures implemented by the Israeli army put a huge strain on the West Bank economy.
The West Bank is home to nearly 775,000 registered refugees, around a quarter of whom live in 19 camps. Most of the others live in West Bank towns and villages. Some camps are located next to major towns and others are in rural areas.
While the West Bank has the largest number of recognized Palestine refugee camps in the five UNWRA fields, the largest of them, Balata, has a population similar to that of the smallest camp in Gaza.
Palestinians whose forbears were displaced in 1948 but remained within the borders of what is now Israel are estimated to number 335,204 [2010 figure]
They have the right to Israeli citizenship but are denied the right to return to their home towns or villages.
Palestinians fled to Egypt during the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars.
It is estimated that there are up to 50,000 Palestinians in Egypt.
However, they do not have permanent residency rights, nor can they register as refugees.
The forgotten Palestinians: how Palestinian refugees survive in Egypt, Oroub El Abed application/pdf iconelabed.pdf
Some 50,000 Palestinian refugees live in Egypt without the assistance or protection of the UN and burdened by many restrictive laws and regulations. Little is known about their plight and their unique status.
Palestinians fled to Egypt after the wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967. Gazans employed as civil servants when the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian administrative rule and Gazan students in Egypt when it was occupied by Israel in 1967 were also prevented from returning home. Neither group of displaced Palestinians has been protected or assisted either by UNHCR or by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) - the agency set up to assist Palestinian refugees which began operations in 1950. While UNRWA established relief and assistance projects in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza, Egypt did not allow UNRWA to operate on its territories.
The rise to power of Gamal Abdel-Nasser in 1952 ushered in a golden age for Palestinians in Egypt. Palestinians were regarded as equal to Egyptian nationals and were able to access education and other state services and to work without restrictions. However, by the late 1970s the dispersed Palestinian communities in Egypt were increasingly affected by tensions between the Egyptian government and the Palestinian liberation organisation. The Camp David peace agreement and the assassination of Egypt's culture minister by the Palestinian faction headed by Abu Nidal in 1978 proved a turning point. Laws and regulations were amended to treat Palestinians as foreigners. Rights to free education, employment and residency were rescinded. The state media projected negative images of 'ungrateful' Palestinians and accused them of having brought about their expulsion by their greed and willingness to sell their land to Zionists. As a result, many Egyptians believe that Palestinians are rich, economically powerful and influential and deserve neither sympathy nor assistance.
Palestinian rights in Egypt since 1978
University education, free for Palestinians under Nasser, now has to be paid for in foreign currency. Even those Palestinians entitled to exemption from paying 90% of the fees charged to foreign students are often unable to raise the remainder. Some Palestinians report forging birth certificates to indicate they are Egyptian in order to get free education. Others have initially paid the minimum fees that Egyptians pay, promising to pay the remaining foreign fees after graduation. Often they are unable to do so and are thus denied official accreditation.
Due to their educational qualifications Egypt-based Palestinians were able to secure well-paid employment in the Gulf in the 1960s and 1970s. Palestinians were known as highly educated professionals and worked in medicine, commerce, engineering, teaching and management. Those who began professional careers prior to 1978 have been able to keep their posts. However, education restrictions mean they have not been joined by younger Palestinians. Many adolescent Palestinians have dropped out of school. Aware of the constraints on their livelihoods, many young men only aspire to learning a vocational skill or owning a shop. Young women have given up hope for an education and resign themselves to household duties and child-rearing. Public sympathy for Palestinians as a result of new hardships suffered since the outbreak of the current Al Aqsa intifada has recently led to the education authorities allowing Palestinian students to attend government schools without paying fees. This has assisted a few but has done little to make up for the lack of education over the years.
The private sector requires skills which, without education, Palestinians are unable to obtain. Private employers are required to obtain work permits for Palestinians and regulations restrict the number of 'foreigners' in any company to 10%. Palestinians are thus forced to work as truck or taxi drivers, unskilled or semi-skilled labourers, bicycle-repairers, street vendors of used clothing or itinerant 'suitcase merchants' carrying items from governorate to governorate.
A minority of Palestinians are more fortunate. Employees of the PLO and former Egyptian civil servants are assured a regular income and have been able to send their children to public schools and are exempted from paying university fees.
Palestinians are also affected by:
the risk of health emergencies: while basic health services for Palestinians in Egypt are satisfactory, most fear inability to pay for unexpected and costly medical operations and prolonged medication.
a 1976 law restricting foreigners from owning buildings and lands and a 1988 limiting ownership of agricultural land to Egyptians.
strict residency requirements: renewal
of permits is conditional on paying a fee and proving a reason to remain in Egypt- even though none of them can go back to Palestine. Palestinians unable to provide evidence of educational enrolment, a work permit, marriage to an Egyptian, a business relationship with an Egyptian or a bank balance of $5,000 are at risk of jail or deportation.
tight travel restrictions: if Palestinians spend more than six months out of Egypt their residency may be revoked. Those who need to reside abroad for one year are required to apply for a one year return visa which is invalidated if the holder does not return to Egypt before its expiry. Many Egyptian-born Palestinians are stranded in Arab states, living illegally and unable to return to Egypt. In 2001-2002 a student who had studied in Russia spent 14 months shuffling between Moscow and Cairo airports before UNHCR managed to secure asylum in Sweden.
Who protects the rights of Palestinians in Egypt?
In theory, UNHCR has a mandate to protect Palestinians living outside the five UNRWA areas of operation. However, Arab politicians have hampered UNHCR's ability to provide protection. Arab states have argued that as the UN is responsible for Palestinian expulsion - the General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947 approved the Partition Plan for Palestine - the UN has therefore an ongoing responsibility to develop mechanisms for repatriation and compensation. Allowing Palestinians to be protected by UNHCR would prejudice their case by encouraging third-country resettlement.
Palestinians have been excluded from the protection of UNHCR, based on the fact that they receive assistance from UNRWA - regardless of the fact that only those who live within its five areas of operation are assisted. Only in September 2002 did UNHCR reinterpret Article 1D of the 1951 Refugee Convention in order to emphasise that Palestinian refugees are ipso facto refugees and are to be protected by UNHCR if the assistance or protection of the other UN body ceases. In light of this, it has included those Palestinians not living in the countries of UNRWA field operations within UNHCR's protection mandate. In practice, however, UNHCR is still not doing much for Palestinians who do not come under the UNRWA mandate.
Egypt is a signatory to the 1965 Casablanca Protocol(1) and has ratified its articles designed to give Palestinians rights to residency, work and travel while emphasising the importance of preserving Palestinian nationality and maintaining refugee status. In 1981 Egypt additionally signed the 1951 UN Convention. In practice, neither document has been implemented. Egypt's shifting policies towards its Palestinians have led to a gradual erosion of their rights. Regulations have marginalised Palestinians and reduced them to the status of foreigners denied access to international bodies able to voice their needs. All the legal instruments of the UN and the Arab League have failed to protect the basic human rights of Palestinians, not only in Palestine but also in exile. If Egypt, and other Arab states, are to sincerely support the Palestinian refugee cause they must provide rights and access to services until such time as Palestinians are able to return.
Up until May 2006, UNHCR estimated that 34,000 Palestinians lived in Iraq. Today, only 11,544 UNHCR-registered Palestinian refugees remain.
Palestinians have been targeted and scores have been killed by militant groups since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. As such, many Palestinians who were living in Iraq have suffered forced displacement twice: once from their original homes, and then from their host country.
Most fleeing Palestinians have sought refuge in neighbouring Syria and Jordan. 
UNRWA versus UNHCR
Such is the scale and uniqueness of the Palestinian refugee problem that the UN has one agency for Palestinian refugees in the Levant countries and another for all other refugees across the world.
The dangerous flight and loss of goods and chattels were traumatic experiences for those involved. Palestinians refer to the events of 1948 as al-Nakba (the Catastrophe).
Only a small number of refugees managed to find shelter with family or relatives. Others found shelter first in public buildings such as schools and mosques. Eventually, the great majority ended up in camps, which had been set up hastily by the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (which in May 1950 became the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA), by the International Red Cross and by Christian aid organizations such as the Quakers.
Some refugees were forced to spend years in camps, living in tents at the mercy of the elements. Afterwards, the tents were replaced by so-called shelters – temporary accommodation, measuring only a couple of square metres. The Palestinian refugees initially opposed the construction of these shelters as they seemed to make their situation permanent without resolving anything.
The situation indeed remained unresolved. On 11 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Resolution 194, but the State of Israel (its membership of the UN was subject to the endorsement of the resolution) blocked the return of Palestinian refugees from day one (most of them ended up in neighbouring countries).
THREE GENERATIONS OF REFUGEES
In order to be eligible for help, the Palestinians had to register as refugees with the UNRWA. Today, more than three generations of Palestinians are dependent on the UNRWA for their survival – for housing, food, medical aid, and education.
In the early years, life in the camps was extremely harsh for the refugees. To a large extent, the original inhabitants in the Gaza Strip suffered equally, as their lives were often totally disrupted by the huge influx of refugees. However, they were not eligible for aid or support from international organizations, which was available solely to refugees.
Together, scattered across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a total of 27 refugee camps were carved out of the ground after 1948: 19 in the West Bank, 8 in the Gaza Strip. In 2012, the number of inhabitants varied from 1,900 (Ayn al-Sultan, near Jericho) to 110,000 persons (Jabaliya, north of Gaza City), according to UNRWA. Most of the camps are located in the vicinity of the large cities; some have merged with them. Still, these ‘city quarters’ remain easy to detect with their dense streets, inferior infrastructure, and the general absence of parks or other planted areas.
Although the West Bank is fifteen times the size of the Gaza Strip, the number of refugees in camps in the West Bank was less than half that in the Gaza Strip in 2012 (188,150 versus 518,000).
Nevertheless, certainly not all Palestinians ended up in refugee camps after 1948. Those who had enough money, family support, or who were simply lucky, could rent or buy a house or apartment in a new place of residence.
During the June War of 1967 and the ensuing occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by Israel, many thousands of Palestinians were again forced to seek refuge elsewhere: about 250,000 left the West Bank and 70,000 left the Gaza Strip. Most of them ended up in Jordan. Others who were abroad when war broke out, were denied access to the territories.
REFUGEES LIVING IN CAMPS
That identification may also have been triggered by the prevalent perception of the Agency as inseparable from the 58 camps it currently services in coordination with the host authorities. Established in the late 1940s- early 1950s in order to better assist and control scattered groups of homeless refugees – mostly former farmers and labourers unable to afford any decent lodging – camps became the symbols of the refugees’ refusal to settle permanently in their host country, in the name of their ‘right of return’. Yet the percentage of camp refugees across the Middle East (RRC’s) has never exceeded 40 percent since May 1950, stabilizing nowadays at about one third of the registered refugees, with significant variations: from a low of 17 percent in Jordan to a high of 53 percent in Lebanon. In absolute terms, however, the Gaza Strip records the highest cohort of camp refugees (nearly half a million camp refugees), followed by Jordan (338,000 camp refugees), while Syria has the lowest (about 125,000 camp refugees).
The politicization of UNRWA’s mandate has shaped the refugees’ relations with the Agency. Every decision adopted by its management has thus been scrutinized through the prism of its adequacy with regard to the right of return. In this way, the numerous budgetary restriction measures the Agency has been compelled to take as a result of decreases in the financial contributions of its donor countries have chiefly been interpreted as representing a denial of that right.
THE ARAB HOST COUNTRIES
The Palestinian refugees’ (temporary) exclusion from the international humanitarian regime in the Middle East has left the host countries free to craft the type of integration policies that best suited their internal political and socio-economic interests. This explains the diversity of the current refugees’ legal statuses and situations across this region. Yet, behind this diversity, it is possible to discern common trends that resulted from recommendations elaborated by the Arab League as far back as the early 1950s.
Maintaining the bulk of the Palestinian refugees in statelessness – officially as stateless, but endowed with a ‘Palestinian nationality’ – was the main measure taken by the Arab countries in order to prevent their full integration and thus preserve their right of return. Jordan, which extended its sovereignty to the West Bank of the Jordan River in the wake of the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War, stands out as an exception. Because Jordan’s King Abdullah I believed that the relatively better educated Palestinian refugees would be instrumental in modernizing his kingdom, he decided to grant them, as well as the indigenous inhabitants of the West Bank, full nationality in 1949. This has not, however, prevented Jordan from continuing to support the right of return: once Palestine was liberated, the refugees would be given the option to choose between permanent settlement in Jordan or repatriation to their original homes in a liberated Palestine.
The Arab League in Cairo in 1957, after the Suez Crisis. From the left: Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli, King Hussein of Jordan, King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, and Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian President. The League reasserted the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes.
The Arab League sought to alleviate the refugees’ political marginalization by ensuring, through numerous resolutions, that they would be given treatment on a par with the citizens of the host countries in such socio-economic fields as employment, residency, education and free movement. In particular (except in Jordan) the refugees were granted Refugee Documents in order to facilitate travel and access to employment across the Middle East. In 1965, these various legal instruments were synthesized in one document, the Casablanca Protocol, which was adopted by the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Arab League.
Although the Protocol was ratified by most countries of the Arab League, it has never been fully or consistently implemented. As a matter of fact, the Palestinian refugees have generally been subjected to discriminatory legal/administrative measures applicable to foreigners. The most striking example is Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees, who constitute a sizable percentage of the total population (about 10 percent), have since 1948 been treated as foreigners in such matters as employment, the acquisition and inheritance of property, taxation, and social security. In addition, they have had almost no access to governmental medical, education or social services outside those of UNRWA (or the rather expensive private sector’s) and have been barred from most liberal professions, including medicine, law and engineering, and other ‘protected’ professions (sixty to seventy professions altogether). Suspended after the conclusion of the Cairo Accords between the PLO and the Lebanese authorities in 1969, these discriminatory regulations have been fully enforced upon the Palestinian refugees since the abrogation of these accords in 1987. Even in Jordan, where the ‘Jordanians of Palestinian origin’ – as the 1948 Palestinian refugees are formally labelled – have enjoyed the political and socio-economic benefits of citizenship, a number of informal incidents of discrimination have been reported in the fields of employment in the public sector and of representation in parliament and other national institutions. The fate of the approximately 200,000 ‘Gazan displaced’, namely those 40,000 refugees and non-refugees from the Gaza Strip who were transferred to Jordan in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and their descendents, has been far less enviable. Similarly to most Palestinian refugees in the other Arab host countries, they have been kept politically disenfranchised and have been subject to numerous restrictions in regards to ownership of property, access to higher education and to governmental services.
In contrast, Syria has been considered the most equitable towards the Palestinian refugees. Since the 1950s, it has granted them the same rights as its own nationals in the fields of employment, government services, trade and military service, while restricting access to land ownership (to prevent permanent resettlement). Besides feelings of solidarity and generosity towards the refugees, Syria’s generosity may also be ascribed to the fact that the refugees only amount to a tiny portion (2.7 percent) of its total population.
Expenditures to Palestinians
The discriminatory statuses imposed by most Arab host countries upon the Palestinian refugees has been stigmatized by Israeli and Western observers as reflecting the cynical instrumentalization of the refugee question for their own strategic ends within the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab countries for their part, have predicated their position on international law and more especially on the international community’s obligation to implement the relevant UN resolutions, starting with UNGA resolution 194 (III).
Internal socio-economic and political considerations have also been put forward. As early as 1960, UNRWA itself acknowledged that the host countries had nowhere near the absorptive capacity needed to integrate a refugee population of that magnitude. Moreover, credit was to be given to assist the host countries in terms of provision of private or state-owned land for camp sites, the enforcement of the rule of law in the camps, and the provision of complementary medical, welfare and educational (post-preparatory phase) services to the UNRWA-registered refugees and full support to the non-registered refugees. Both Jordan and Syria reported that expenditures on behalf of the Palestinian refugees exceed those of UNRWA. In 2004-05, Jordan’s support for the refugees amounted to about half a billion dollars (USD 440 million) compared to USD 73 million for UNRWA.
The same year, Syria’s reported expenditures on behalf of the Palestinian refugees was USD 102 million, compared to USD 28 million for UNRWA. Lebanon’s level of expenditure was lower: approximately USD 30 million, while UNRWA’s stood at USD 55 million. Overall, the total amount of the Arab countries’ contributions to UNRWA’s regular budget has been lower than expected. It accounted for less than two percent (four percent when taking into account special projects), while relevant Arab League resolutions targeted 7.73 percent of UNRWA’s regular budget. This reflects a deeply anchored belief among Arabs that the Palestinian refugees’ humanitarian plight is an international responsibility.
Initially the response of host Arab states to the incoming Palestinian refugees was to offer them refuge on the assumption that it would be temporary. When it became obvious that the problem would be protracted, the policies of Arab states toward the refugees changed, and the initial sympathy was coupled with an insistence on Israel's ultimate responsibility for them. As a result most Arab governments strongly opposed resettlement and naturalization of the refugees. Instead, they adopted policies and procedures aimed at preserving the Palestinian identity of the individuals and their status as refugees.
Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
A Palestine refugee camp is defined as a plot of land placed at the disposal of UNRWA by the host government to accommodate Palestine refugees and set up facilities to cater to their needs. Areas not designated as such and are not recognized as camps. However, UNRWA also maintains schools, health centres and distribution centres in areas outside the recognized camps where Palestine refugees are concentrated, such as Yarmouk, near Damascus.
The plots of land on which the recognized 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.
Socioeconomic conditions in the camps are generally poor, with high population density, cramped living conditions and inadequate basic infrastructure such as roads and sewers.
The remaining two thirds of registered Palestine 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 the Palestine refugee camps, a number are outside; all of the Agency’s services are available to all registered Palestine refugees, including those who do not live in the camps.
As shown in the video of the Lebanese camp, movement through the camp is via narrow paths and accommodation is in poor condition. Residents are not allowed to buy property outside the camp.
Fate of Palestinian Refugee Agency Uncertain as US Threatens to Cut Funding fanack Jan 11 2018