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Palestinian territories 1948 Palestinian exodus
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Main articles
1948 Palestinian exodus

1947-48 civil war
1948 Arab-Israeli War
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Key incidents
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Exodus from Lydda

Notable writers
Aref al-Aref · Yoav Gelber
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Avraham Sela · Avi Shlaim

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Villages depopulated
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Palestinian refugee camps were established after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War to accommodate the Palestine refugees who fled from the war.

This article lists the current Palestine refugee camps with current population and year they were established.

The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) defines a Palestine refugee as:

"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 War."

UNRWA provides facilities in 59 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It also provided relief to displaced persons inside the State of Israel following the 1948 conflict until the Israeli government took over responsibility for them in 1952.

For a camp to be recognized by UNRWA, there must be an agreement between the host government and UNRWA governing use of the camp. UNRWA does not itself run any camps, has no police powers or administrative role, but simply provides services to the camp. Refugee camps, which developed from tented cities to rows of concrete blockhouses to urban ghettos indistinguishable from their surroundings, house around one third of all registered Palestine refugees. UNRWA also provides facilities in other areas where large numbers of registered Palestine refugees live outside of recognized camps.

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.[1]



There are ten refugee camps in Jordan. Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement gained many recruits from the residents of those overcrowded camps who launched guerilla attacks into Israel in the 1960s.[2]

    • 1955, Amman New Camp (Wihdat), 49,805
    • 1968, Baqa'a, 80,100
    • 1968, Husn (Martyr Azmi el-Mufti), 19,573
    • 1968, Irbid camp, 23,512
    • 1952, Jabal el-Hussein, 27,674
    • 1968, Jerash camp, 15,696
    • 1968, Marka, 41,237
    • 1967, Souf, 14,911
    • 1968, Talbieh, 4,041
    • 1949, Zarqa camp, 17,344


The total number of registered refugees in Lebanon is 409,714.[1] There are 12 official camps with 225,125 refugees.

The Palestinians' Lebanese camps became ghettos as the Palestinians were barred from citizenship, finding certain jobs, or traveling abroad.[3] Some of these refugee camps, overcrowded and filled with angry refugees, helped seed the beginnings of Yasser Arafat's Fatah group; guerilla attacks on Israel were launched from some of the Palestinian camps in Lebanon.[2]

Following major armed conflict in one camp in 2007, the Lebanese government sought greater input into the rebuilding of the camp, and in the camp's ongoing management. The government wanted the ability to intervene in the future, and to exercise police powers there instead of the Palestinian armed forces that had policed the camp previously.[3]


Syria has 10 official camps with 119,776 refugees.

    • 1950, Dera'a, 5,916
    • 1967, Dera'a (Emergency), 5,536
    • 1950, Hama, 7,597
    • 1949, Homs, 13,825
    • 1948, Jaramana, 5,007
    • 1950, Khan Dunoun, 8,603
    • 1949, Khan Eshieh, 15,731
    • 1948, Neirab, 17,994
    • 1967, Qabr Essit, 16,016
    • 1948, Sbeineh, 19,624

Additional unofficial camps in Syria:

West Bank

The West Bank has 19 official camps with 194,514 refugees.

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip has eight official camps with 478,854 refugees.


  1. ^ UNRWA:Palestine Refugees (English)
  2. ^ a b The Mideast: A Century of Conflict Part 4: The 1967 Six Day War, NPR morning edition, October 3, 2002. URL accessed December 28, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Palestinians' bittersweet homecoming in Lebanon By William Wheeler, Christian Science Monitor, 3/5/08.

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