West Bank Refugee Camps:
The West Bank is home to 771,000 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 camps in UNRWA's five fields of operation, the largest camp, Balata, has a similar population as the smallest camp in Gaza.
After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and subsequent related agreements, parts of the West Bank, including the refugee camps, were divided into three different zones of authority. Far’a and Nur Shams were initially in zone B, but following the implementation of the first phase of the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, they came under zone A, raising the total number of camps under full Palestinian Authority control to thirteen.
Palestinian Refugee Camps in West Bank
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. It was established in 1950, is located between the towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala.
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. It is located within the municipal boundaries of al-Bireh
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. It is located 3km southwest of Jericho.
The original inhabitants came from 33 villages in Ramleh, Hebron and Gaza. It was established in 1949, it is located 15km south of Bethlehem on only 0.24 square kilometres.
Refugees in Askar came from 36 villages in the Lydd, Haifa and Jaffa areas. It was established in 1950 on 0.12 square kilometres, it is located within the municipal boundaries of Nablus.
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 kilometres, is located 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.
It is the smallest West Bank camp, covering only 0.02 square kilometres. 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. it was established in 1950, it is located in the heart of Bethlehem.
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”). It was established in 1950 on 0.05 square kilometres, it is located alongside the main Nablus/Jenin road, within the municipal boundaries of Nablus.
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. It was established in 1949 on 0.16 square kilometres, it is located 30km north-west of Ramallah.
The camp’s original refugees came from 45 villages in the western Jerusalem and western Hebron areas. It was established in 1949, it is located within the municipal boundaries of Bethlehem on 0.31 square kilometres.
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. It was established in 1948 on 0.87 square kilometres, it is located below the Mount of Temptation and 1km from Jericho.
The camp is 17km north-east of Nablus. Far’a’s original refugees came from 30 villages to the north-east of Haifa. Following the Wye River Memorandum, the camp came under Palestinian Authority control. It was established in 1949 on 0.26 square kilometres of land, it is located in the foothills of the Jordan Valley near the Far'a spring.
The camp’s original inhabitants came from 18 villages in the Gaza, Hebron and Beersheeva areas. The southernmost of the West Bank camps, Fawwar was established in 1949 on 0.27 square kilometres of land, it is located 10km south of Hebron.
Most of the original refugees came from 36 villages in the Lydd and Ramleh areas. The camp came under joint Israeli-Palestinian control following the Oslo agreements. It was established in 1949 on 0.25 square kilometres of rocky hillside, it is located 7km north of Ramallah.
It currently sits on 0.42 square kilometres. 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. It was established in 1953, it is located within the municipal boundaries of Jenin.
52 villages in the Lydd, Ramleh, Haifa, Jerusalem and Hebron areas. 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.
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. It was established in 1952 on 0.23 square kilometres, it is located 3km east of Tulkarm.
Shu’fat was established after the Mascar camp in Jerusalem’s Old City was closed because of its unsanitary conditions. it was established in 1965, more than a decade after all the other official camps in the West Bank, it is located on 0.2 square kilometres just north of Jerusalem.
Tulkarm camp 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. Tulkarm camp was established in 1950, it is located on 0.18 square kilometres within the municipal boundaries of Tulkarm on the western edge of the West Bank.