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UN & UNRWA should demand end to refugee camps in Gaza & West Bank

By David Singer - posted Tuesday, 24 May 2022

The tragic death of Palestinian Arab-USA journalist – Shireen Abu Akleh – caught in crossfire between Israeli security forces and armed Palestinian Arabs in Jenin - should serve as a clarion call to the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to demand:

  • the closure of the 27 UNRWA-funded Palestinian Arab refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – currently housing about 1 million Palestinian Arabs and
  • their resettlement in towns and villages throughout Gaza and areas A and B of the West Bank among their own Palestinian Arab brethren.

No Palestinian Arab should have ever been classified as a refugee after having moved from one part to another part of former Palestine – whether voluntarily or not. UNRWA stands condemned for allowing this fictitious refugee status to continue for over 70 years. UNRWA's flawed policy has led to discrimination and a gross abuse of human rights for those Palestinian Arabs forced to live in these over-crowded and degrading camps separated from their fellow Palestinian Arabs.

That human rights organisations such as the UN Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International remain silent on the plight of these penned in Palestinian Arabs and the conditions in which they live is equally reprehensible.

UNRWA makes clear that it has no say in the camps being closed or remaining open:

"UNRWA does not administer or police the camps, as this is the responsibility of the host authorities."

But UNRWA does have the power to force their closure by withholding financial assistance to those PLO and Hamas-administered camps unless their residents are progressively moved out and resettled among the general Palestinian Arab populations in Gaza and the West Bank.

UNRWA itself readily admits the shocking conditions existing in these camps which have also become breeding grounds for planning and implementing violence and murderous attacks against Israel's civilian population


Jenin Camp on the West Bank:

  • borders the Jenin municipality and was established in 1953
  • has a population of 14000 that lives on just 0.42 sq. km of land
  • according to UNRWA:
    experiences one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty among the 19 West Bank refugee camps... Unemployment and poverty has affected the youth especially, resulting in widespread dissatisfaction and frustration and contributing to higher school dropout rates among younger children.

Jabalia Camp in the Gaza Strip:

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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