UN Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA): Palestinian Refugees in the West Bank
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.
West Bank UNRWA Camps
Facts and Figures
- 774,167 registered Palestine refugees
- 19 camps
- 96 schools, with 48,956 pupils
- 2 vocational and technical training centres
- 43 primary health centres
- 5 community rehabilitation centres
- 13 women’s program centres
West Bank camp residents have been hard hit by closures imposed on the West Bank by the Israeli authorities, as they are largely dependent on income from work inside Israel.
The camps are extremely overcrowded, with a lack of space, particularly parks and playgrounds, for children to play.
Unemployment levels are particularly high among West Bank refugees. Households spend an average of half their income on food, leaving very little to spend on other essentials such as shelter and education. This encourages a cycle of debt, further entrenching poverty.
Overcrowding is a huge problem in UNRWA’s schools, with an average of 50 pupils per classroom. A number of schools share the same school building, which reduces teaching time, while others operate in rented premises.
Many schools have also been damaged by Israeli military activity since September 2000.
The high population density and rapidly growing population has massively strained the camp infrastructure. Residents frequently expand their homes with no proper planning and old sewage networks are unable to cope.