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UN Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA):
West Bank Refugee Camp Profiles

(Updated January 2013)


UNRWA: Table of Contents | West Bank Refugee Stats | What is UNRWA?


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Aida -- Am'ari -- Aqbat Jabr -- Arroub -- Askar -- Balata -- Beit Jibrin
Camp #1 -- Deir 'Ammar -- Dheisheh -- Ein el-Sultan -- Far'a

Fawwar -- Jalazone -- Jenin -- Kalandia -- Nur Shams -- Shu'fat -- Tulkarm

Aida

  • Over 4,700 registered refugees
  • One school for girls, operating in shifts. Boys attend schools in Beit Jala.
  • One food distribution center
  • There are no health centers in the camp, residents access health services in Dheisheh camp or Bethlehem.
  • One emergency physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center

Aida camp was established in 1950 between the towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan. The original refugees in Aida camp generally hailed from 17 villages in the western Jerusalem and western Hebron areas, including Walaja, Khirbet El Umur, Qabu, Ajjur, Allar, Deir Aban, Maliha, Ras Abu Ammar and Beit Nattif.

Aida covers a small area of 0.71 square kilometers that has not grown significantly with the refugee population. As such, it faces severe overcrowding problems. In many cases, the UNRWA installations in Aida camp also provide services for the refugees in the nearby Beit Jibrin camp. The camp is fully linked to municipal electricity and water grids, but the sewage and water networks are poor.

The camp came under special hardship during the second intifada, when the school sustained severe damage and 29 housing units were destroyed by Israeli military incursions.

The unemployment rate is 43 per cent and is affected by the increased inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Am'ari

  • Over 10,500 registered refugees
  • Two schools. The girls’ elementary school operates in two shifts.
  • One food distribution center
  • One health center
  • One emergency physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One children’s center
  • One women’s program center

The Red Cross established Am’ari camp in 1949 within the municipal bounds of al-Bireh, providing tents to refugees from the cities of Lydd, Jaffa and Ramla, as well as from the villages of Beit Dajan, Deir Tarif, Abu Shoush, Nanaa, Sadoun Janzeh and Beit Naballa. Like other West Bank camps, Am’ari was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

UNRWA took responsibility for the camp in 1950, constructing housing units with concrete ceilings. By 1957, UNRWA had replaced all tents with concrete shelters. Families of up to five people received one-room shelters, while families with more than five members received two-room shelters. Today, the camp covers 0.93 square kilometers, and less than half a meter separates most shelters. Ventilation in shelters is very poor. The camp is fully linked to municipal electricity and water grids.

Following the redeployment of the Israeli army in 1995, the camp came under Palestinian Authority control.

The unemployment rate stands at 27 per cent.

The camp's football team has won the Palestine football championship several times and has been designated to represent Palestine in regional and international competitions.

Aqbat Jaber

  • Around 6,400 registered refugees
  • Two schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, two other health centers
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One children’s center
  • One women’s program center

Aqbat Jaber camp was established in 1948, 3km southwest of Jericho. Before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the number of registered refugees was 30,000, making Aqbat Jaber the biggest camp in the West Bank. The original inhabitants came from nearly 300 villages north of Haifa, as well as the Gaza and Hebron areas. Like other West Bank camps, Aqbat Jaber was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

Many of the refugees fled to Jordan during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The camp came under the Palestinian Authority’s control following the signing of the 1994 Cairo Agreement. The remaining refugees mostly originate from 22 villages, including Deir Al-Dhannam. Ajour, Al-Mismiyya, Abbasiyeh, Beit Jibrin, Tel Al Safi, Beit Dajan, Yazou and Kufr Ana.

Non-refugees have also moved onto camp lands and some have illegally constructed houses there. Residents today work primarily in agriculture in the Jordan valley, or in nearby Israeli settlements.

While all shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, water scarcity is a major problem in this desert area. During the summer months, residents face severe water shortages which cause tremendous hardship. UNRWA is able to provide some water to the camp by pumping it from a nearby spring, though the Israeli water company Mekerot is the main supplier of water to the camp. There is no storm water drainage, and during heavy rains, water floods residents’ homes.

The unemployment rate is 28 per cent and is affected by the inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Arroub

  • Over 10,400 registered refugees
  • Three schools. The boys’ school runs on a two-shift basis.
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, four other health centers
  • One community-based rehabilitation center (currently inactive)
  • One children’s center
  • One women’s program center

Arroub camp was established in 1949, 15km south of Bethlehem. It is located on only 0.24 square kilometers. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan. The original inhabitants came from 33 villages in Ramleh, Hebron and Gaza.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure. One in a hundred shelters is not connected to the public sewage network and, thus, has latrines that empty into cesspits.

The camp is located on the main Hebron-Jerusalem road and Israeli military incursions occur sporadically.

The unemployment rate is 30 per cent and is affected by the increased inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Askar

  • Nearly 15,900 registered refugees
  • Three schools. The girls’ school operates on a two-shift basis.
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, three other health centers
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • Two children’s centers
  • One woman’s program center
  • One educational development center

Askar camp was established in 1950 on 0.12 square kilometers within the municipal boundaries of Nablus. Refugees in Askar came from 36 villages in the Lydd, Haifa and Jaffa areas. Like other West Bank camps, Askar was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.  

In 1965, severe overcrowding led camp residents to expand to an extra 0.1 square kilometers. of adjacent land. Camp residents refer to this new area as "New Askar". "New Askar" is not, however, officially recognized as a camp, and there are thus no UNRWA installations in the new camp.

Division of power between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the government of Israel has further divided the original and “new” camps; the original camp falls within “area A,” and is thus under PA control, whereas the “new” camp is in “area B,” and is thus under joint PA-Israeli control.

Overcrowding persists in the camp. The camp committee has suggested expanding the camp's boundaries as a possible solution. Since these camps fall under the jurisdiction of host governments, however, UNRWA has no authority to undertake camp expansions.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure.

The unemployment rate is 28 per cent.

Balata

  • Around 23,600 registered refugees
  • Four schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, eight others
  • One emergency physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Balata was established in 1950 and has become the largest West Bank camp in terms of inhabitants, with over 23,000 registered refugees. The camp’s 0.25 square kilometers lie within the municipal boundaries of Nablus. The refugees came from 60 villages and the cities of Lydd, Jaffa and Ramleh. Many are of Bedouin origin.

Civil society and political actors in Balata are especially strong. The first West Bank group to defend refugee rights, the Refugee Committee to Defend Refugee Rights, was established in Balata in early 1994. The camp committee is one of the most active committees in the area. Three of its members serve on the Palestinian Legislative Council. The youth activities center and the women's program center organize many activities as well. The camp fell under serious pressure from the Israeli army during the intifada.

While all shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure through the Nablus Municipality, there are serious water and sewerage network problems. In summer, distribution systems only work four days per week, and UNRWA’s local reservoir provides limited relief. A municipal improvement project recently seriously improved the camp’s roads.

The unemployment rate is 25 per cent and is affected by the inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Beit Jibrin

  • Over 1,000 registered refugees

Beit Jibrin was established in 1950 in the heart of Bethlehem. It is the smallest West Bank camp, covering only 0.02 square kilometers. The camp’s original residents came from the destroyed village of Beit Jibrin, on the western hills of Hebron. The camp is also often called the Azzeh camp, since more than 60 per cent of the camp’s residents descend from the Azzeh family. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.  

The camp's residents receive services from UNRWA installations in the nearby Aida refugee camp and the UNRWA sub-area office in Bethlehem. The UNRWA camp services office is also based in Aida camp.

Following the Israeli army redeployment in 1995, the camp came under Palestinian Authority control.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure.

The unemployment rate is 30 per cent and is affected by the increased inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Camp No. 1

  • Around 6,750 registered refugees
  • Two schools
  • One UNRWA health center, one other
  • One physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Camp No. 1 was established in 1950 on 0.05 square kilometers alongside the main Nablus/Jenin road, within the municipal boundaries of Nablus. The original inhabitants of the camp came from the cities of Lydd, Jaffa and Haifa. Some residents are also of Bedouin origin. Since there was a water spring that provided for refugees’ water needs in the early days of the camp, it is also sometimes referred to as “Ein Beit el-Ma’” (“Spring of the House of Water”). Like other West Bank camps, the camp was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.  

The camp faces very serious overcrowding issues. Shelters have 0.2 meters between them, on average, and streets are so cramped that there are no sidewalks in the camp. Space is so tight that bodies of the deceased are usually passed through windows from one shelter to another in order to reach the camp's main street during funerals.

Following the Israeli army redeployment in 1995, the camp came under Palestinian Authority control.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure.  

The unemployment rate is 25 per cent and is affected by the increased inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Deir 'Ammar

  • Nearly 2,400 registered refugees
  • Two schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, two others
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Deir 'Ammar camp was established in 1949 on 0.16 square kilometers 30km north-west of Ramallah. The camp was built on a plot of land belonging to non-refugee residents of Deir 'Ammar village. In return, UNRWA's installations in the camp also provide services to non-refugee villagers. The camp’s original inhabitants come from destroyed villages in the Ramleh, Jaffa and Lydd areas.  

While all shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, there is no sewerage system, and residents use latrines connected to percolation pits. A private septic tank collects the waste and dumps it in a wadi 3km from the camp, for a fee.

Following the Oslo Agreements, the camp fell under joint Israeli-Palestinian control.

The unemployment rate is 23 per cent and is affected by the increased inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Dheisheh

  • Almost 13,000 registered refugees
  • Two schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, two others
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Dheisheh camp was established in 1949 within the municipal boundaries of Bethlehem on 0.31 square kilometers. The camp’s original refugees came from 45 villages in the western Jerusalem and western Hebron areas. Like other West Bank camps, Dheisheh was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.  

While all shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, 15 per cent of the shelters are not connected to the public sewerage system, instead using latrines connected to percolation pits.

A third of people are unemployed, with job opportunities restricted by the inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market. Unemployed people often open small businesses, such as roadside stands.

The camp was heavily affected by the second intifada.

Ein el-Sultan

  • More than 1,900 registered refugees
  • One school
  • One health center
  • One women’s program center
  • One rural women committee

Ein el-Sultan camp was established in 1948 on 0.87 square kilometers below the Mount of Temptation and 1km from Jericho. The original inhabitants came from throughout historic Palestine. Before the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, the camp accommodated some 20,000 refugees. During the war, however, most of the refugees fled to Jordan. The remaining refugees originate from the Ramleh, Lydd and Hebron areas. Like other West Bank camps, Ein el-Sultan was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan. Following Israeli redeployment in 1994, the camp came under Palestinian Authority control.

UNRWA supplies Ein el-Sultan with water by pumping it from a nearby spring. While all shelters are connected to water and electricity infrastructure, water shortages in the camp cause tremendous hardship for the refugees, especially in the summer months.

Around four in ten people are unemployed.

Far'a

  • 7,600 registered refugees
  • Four schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, two others
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Far'a camp was established in 1949 on 0.26 square kilometers of land in the foothills of the Jordan Valley near the Far'a spring. The camp is 17km north-east of Nablus. Far’a’s original refugees came from 30 villages to the north-east of Haifa. Like other West Bank camps, Far'a was established on land UNRWA leased from Jordan. Following the Wye River Memorandum, the camp came under Palestinian Authority control.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure. Far'a is one of the few camps in the West Bank where UNRWA is able to supply water by pumping from a nearby spring. During the summer months, the spring does not meet demand, and the local camp committee has to pay to bring water to the camp.

Most of the camp residents work in the agricultural sector and some depend on work in the Israeli settlements in the Jordan valley.

Unemployment stands at 22 per cent, affected by reduced demand and increased debts.

Fawwar

  • More than 8,000 registered refugees
  • Three schools, one running double shifts
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, four others
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

The southernmost of the West Bank camps, Fawwar was established in 1949 on 0.27 square kilometers of land, 10km south of Hebron. The camp’s original inhabitants came from 18 villages in the Gaza, Hebron and Beersheeva areas. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

The residents of the camp depend almost entirely on work inside Israel and have been especially badly affected by the inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market. Unemployment stands at 32 per cent.

Fawwar is twinned with a French city, which provides cultural activities and limited financing for projects such as a computer lab.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, though not all are connected to the public sewerage system.

Jalazone

  • More than 11,000 registered refugees
  • Two schools, one running on a double-shift basis
  • One food distribution center
  • One employment guidance center
  • One UNRWA health center, two others
  • One physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Jalazone camp was established in 1949 on 0.25 square kilometers of rocky hillside 7km north of Ramallah. Most of the original refugees came from 36 villages in the Lydd and Ramleh areas. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan. The camp came under joint Israeli-Palestinian control following the Oslo agreements.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity, but many are not connected to the sewerage system, instead using private latrines connected to percolation pits or allowing waste water to flood into the roads.

Small businesses in the camp have increased as it has become increasingly difficult for workers to gain access to the Israeli labor market.

Jenin

  • More than 16,000 registered refugees
  • Two schools, one running double shifts
  • One food distribution center
  • One health center
  • One physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

The Jenin camp was established in 1953, within the municipal boundaries of Jenin. It currently sits on 0.42 square kilometers. Most of the camp's residents came from the Carmel region of Haifa and the Carmel mountains. Due to the camp’s close proximity to the refugees’ original villages, many of the refugees still maintain close ties with their relatives inside the Green Line. Many of the camp’s residents work in the agricultural sector around Jenin. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, and nearly all are connected to the municipal sewerage network.  

The camp came under Palestinian control in the mid-1990s but was the subject of intensive violence during the second intifada. The Israeli army entered the city and camp of Jenin in April 2002, declared them a closed military area, prevented all access, and imposed a round-the-clock curfew. Fighting inside the camp lasted 10 days and led to the deaths of at least 52 Palestinians, of whom up to half may have been civilians, and 23 Israeli soldiers. Many more were injured.

Approximately 150 buildings were destroyed and many others were rendered structurally unsound. Around 435 families were left homeless. Even as plans were launched to rebuild the camp and the United Arab Emirates donated land to expand the camp, there were serious obstacles to reconstruction, including regular military incursions, repeated curfews, Israeli closures and Palestinian armed groups’ threats to the project team’s security. The project’s manager, Iain Hook, was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper while in the UNRWA compound in the camp in November 2002.

Around a quarter of residents are unemployed, affected by reduced demand and increased debts.

Kalandia

  • Around 11,000 registered refugees
  • Four schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, five private health centers
  • One physiotherapy unit
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One health center
  • One women’s program center

The Kalandia camp was established in 1949 on 0.35 square kilometers of land, 11km north of Jerusalem. The main Jerusalem-Ramallah road runs through the camp. The camp’s original residents came from 52 villages in the Lydd, Ramleh, Haifa, Jerusalem and Hebron areas. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

The Israeli authorities consider this area as part of Greater Jerusalem, and the camp was thus excluded from the redeployment phase in 1995. Kalandia camp remains under Israeli control today.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure. Most units are also connected to a sewerage system that was only designed for liquid waste and is unsuitable for refugees’ needs. Since people often make the connection to the sewerage system themselves, it often leaks. The Jerusalem Water Company replaced the network without coordinating with UNRWA in 2007, thus destroying paved roads and worsening camp conditions overall. The shelters lack ventilation.  

Almost one in five residents is unemployed.

Nur Shams

  • Over 9,000 registered refugees
  • Two schools
  • One food distribution center
  • One health center
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Nur Shams camp was established in 1952 on 0.23 square kilometers, 3km east of Tulkarm. Original refugees in the camps came from villages around Haifa. Before 1952, they lived in tents in the Jenin valley near Janzour, until a snow storm destroyed their tents in 1950. They then took up shelter in the areas surrounding Wadi Al Shaer, including the former British prison of Nur Shams, where UNRWA began building shelters in 1956. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, and nearly all are connected to the municipal sewerage network.

The camp was transferred to PA control in November 1998, after the Wye River Memorandum and the first phase of further Israeli redeployment.

One in five residents is unemployed, affected by the inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.

Shu'fat

  • Almost 11,000 refugees
  • Four schools, including two private
  • One UNRWA health center, five others
  • One physiotherapy center
  • One community-based rehabilitation center
  • One women’s program center

Shu’fat camp was established in 1965, more than a decade after all the other official camps in the West Bank, on 0.2 square kilometers just north of Jerusalem. Shu’fat was established after the Mascar camp in Jerusalem’s Old City was closed because of its unsanitary conditions. Residents in the Mascar camp who were relocated to Shu’fat originally came from 55 villages in the Jerusalem, Lydd, Jaffa and Ramleh areas. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

Shu'fat is the only West Bank camp that lies within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. As such, its refugees are entitled to Jerusalem identity cards, guaranteeing them residency rights in Jerusalem and making them eligible for certain Israeli social services, including healthcare. Since their movement is not restricted, Jerusalem identity card holders have not been affected by Israeli closures of the West Bank. Many refugees who had previously moved out of the camp are now returning in an attempt to retain their Jerusalem identity cards.

While UNRWA's official number of registered refugees in the camp stands at almost 11,000, the numbers are likely to be above 18,000. An estimated 4,000 refugees moved into the camp in the past several years to avoid losing Jerusalem residency rights. Seventy per cent of the camp’s residents work in the Israeli private sector.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, though not all are connected to the public sewerage system. Overcrowding is a major problem. UNRWA's technical and safety building regulations have been ignored. Increasing numbers of refugees construct three- or four-story shelters on foundations that originally were constructed to hold one- or two-story structures.

Tulkarm

  • More than 18,000 registered refugees
  • Five schools, one running double shifts
  • One food distribution center
  • One UNRWA health center, two others
  • One women’s program center

Tulkarm camp was established in 1950 on 0.18 square kilometers within the municipal boundaries of Tulkarm on the western edge of the West Bank. It is the second largest camp in the West Bank. Its original refugees came from villages and cities in the Haifa, Jaffa and Kissaria areas. The camp came under Palestinian Authority control in 1995. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure. The sewerage system is insufficient, since heavy rains in winter cause old sewage lines to flood dirty water, especially in the areas where the schools are located.

Over a third of residents are unemployed.


Sources: UNRWA

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