Number of Palestinian refugees in occupied territories has increased by 1 million in the past decade

Israel/Palestine
on 8 Comments

In the last decade the number of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza has increased by one million, according to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in advance of World Refugee Day.

Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations now number 5.6 million people, an increase from 5.3 million the year before. A further 2.7 million unlisted refugees are estimated to be living in the occupied territories and abroad.

The largest share of Palestinian refugees reside in the occupied territories. More than three quarters of the total population of the Gaza Strip, and around one quarter of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, are refugees.

Within the occupied Palestinian territories refugees have slowly integrated into the fabric of society. Initially refugee camps were squalid and poorly maintained tent shelters. In the 1960s they were built up into barracks of one-room cement block homes, without restrooms. Over time residents expanded the dwellings. By the 1990s they resembled cramped urban quarters. During the political instability of the first Intifada Israeli forces constructed barbed wires and walls around the neighborhoods.

Today, the camps are over populated with narrow streets. Their residents have the highest unemployment rates in Palestinian society (32.3 percent, compared to 21.4 percent unemployment in the general population). A number of refugee camps in the West Bank are located outside Palestinian hubs, in close range to Israeli settlements and in regions under the security control of Israeli forces. In Gaza, a majority rely on food assistance from the United Nations.

Yet basic statistical indicators show the gap between refugees and non-refugees is closing in the West Bank at least. Education rates, home ownership, life expectancy and infant mortality are about on par with the general public.

The Palestinian refugee crisis began in 1948 when more than 700,000 people fled or were forcibly displaced during the Arab-Israeli war, known by Palestinians as the Nakba. By 1950 the number of displaced persons rose to more than 900,000, or 66 percent of the then total Palestinian population.

In the nearly seven decades since the start of the refugee crisis, the number of refugees has grown fivefold. That increase has made Palestinians largest single national group of refugees in the world. But they are not counted in the same category as traditional displaced persons.

Palestinians are excluded from the record of the 16 million refugees registered with the United Nations High Council of Refugees. They are uniquely administered under a special department, the United Nations Relief Works Agency.

Palestinian refugees are further scattered across the region. Jordan hosts 39.6 percent of the refugee population, with another 10.6 percent (as of January 2015) in Syria, and 8.8 percent in Lebanon.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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8 Responses

  1. just
    June 22, 2016, 12:26 pm

    “Palestinians are excluded from the record of the 16 million refugees registered with the United Nations High Council of Refugees. They are uniquely administered under a special department, the United Nations Relief Works Agency”.

    Thanks, Allison~ i’ve never been fully apprised of this. Perhaps it is part and parcel of the root of the problem… this separateness.

    • Boomer
      June 22, 2016, 2:17 pm

      re: “Thanks, Allison~ i’ve never been fully apprised of this. Perhaps it is part and parcel of the root of the problem… this separateness.”

      Ditto for me. A special category for a specially oppressed people. Stateless people who are neither citizens nor refugees. People without the “right to have rights.”

    • DaBakr
      June 23, 2016, 4:51 pm

      @j. “Perhaps it is part and parcel…. the root of the problem.”

      Your damn right it is. Some might even argue the the reason Israel gets so much ‘special’ attention and censure from world bodies is that their political foes for land were granted unique status as refugees like no other refugees (among the millions after WW2 . they have their ownUN org. And UN funding and they were granted the very special ‘right’ to pass down their status of refugee to not just the first generation, but 2nd,3rd ,4th ad infinitum.

      While in the context of a zionist hating blogsite like mw it’s easy to understand the biases present. But say, e.g., a Nigerian, hondurian, or a rohinga from Burma were cast out as refugees. It would be hard to explain to them why palistinians status merit a lot more, attention and funding then any issues they, as refugees may face working through the EU or the UN.

      . And then there is the unspeakable tragedy which is the former syria and the nightmare its citizens face daily. While Palestinians have suffered greatly I this war there are specific Palestinian refugee camps spread over the Lebanon and Jordan that ordinary Syrians cannot access.

      Not sure what to make of the fact palestinians were rarely granted citizenship in their brethrens ‘host’ countries. Wether they would be better off now as Syrian citizens or remain stateless Palestinians.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 23, 2016, 5:52 pm

        bakr, maybe it was because israel was the first state “created” by the UN they (UN) feel a responsibility to see it through til the refugees are back home where they belong.

      • talknic
        June 23, 2016, 9:17 pm

        DaBakr jumps into the Ziopoop feet first

        A) UNRWA was formed to care for ALL refugees resulting from the Israeli invasion of Palestine. It included Jewish refugees in camps in Israel up until Israel eventually took responsibility for them in 1952

        B) The status of all other refugee groups also passes to lineal descendants as long as they do not acquire citizenship of a country other than that of return, whereby they would no longer have refugee status. For example, there are no longer any Arab Jewish refugees from the Arab states.

        “Not sure what to make of the fact palestinians were rarely granted citizenship in their brethrens ‘host’ countries”

        Quite simple, they’d rather return to their homeland, as is their legal right. Host countries for refugees are not legally required to offer refugees citizenship.

        Meanwhile, Israel is legally required to allow them to return or pay them compensation should they choose citizenship in a state other than that of return.

        ” … the reason Israel gets so much ‘special’ attention and censure from world bodies is that … “ it refuses to adhere to its legal obligations to it’s non-Jewish Israeli citizens AND it refuses to allow internally and externally displaced Palestinian refugees return to non-Israeli territory in Palestine.

      • Mooser
        June 23, 2016, 10:13 pm

        “But say, e.g., a Nigerian, hondurian, or a rohinga from Burma were cast out as refugees. It would be hard to explain to them why palistinians status merit a lot more, attention and funding then any issues they, as refugees may face”

        So there you go, “Dabakr”! All you have to do is get a bunch “a Nigerian, hondurian (sic), or a rohinga(sic) from Burma””cast out as refugees” and they will be so resentful of the Palestinians they will go there an attack them, and crush the anti-zionists on the way over!
        If there is one thing which can drive anybody into a berserker rage, it’s the thought that somebody might be paying attention to the Palestinian’s problems.

      • Mooser
        June 23, 2016, 10:19 pm

        Shorter Dabakr: ‘Why can’t Zionism dispossess or kill or displace anybody it wants to?”

      • oldgeezer
        June 23, 2016, 10:39 pm

        @talknic

        If I could jump in…

        The law and factual history is as you state it.

        There are impacts from historical events.

        1. Jewish refugees who were encouraged to acquire Israeli citizenship under false pretenses may have a grievance. If any fall into that category then their grievance is with the state of Israel. In the event property was expeopriated without compensation from their actual homeland then it should be persued against said country by those individuals.

        2. Tbe reason zionists constantly complain about other nation states not granting citizenship is that is their wet dream relieving them of liability. It’s not going to happen and they need to pay for their crimes.

        Zionist leaders know these laws and facts even if the ignorant hasbarists such as bakr don’t. I am being kind and not assuming he is a mendacious liar. That is why they constantly harp on arab states granting citizenship. That and the extreme racist dogma of zionism.

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