What are refugee camps like?

Published: April 30, 2021
Children sponsored by UK Care for Children

Refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and even those within Palestine are made invisible and have been ignored in peace talks and negotiations. In Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, poor sanitation, food insecurity, low incomes and inadequate housing are contributing to illness and mental health problems.

A doctor in an overcrowded refugee camp health clinic usually sees on average 117 patients per day – almost double the UK average. Hygiene conditions are poor and standing water mixed with drainage and sewage water, leaves people at high risk of waterborne diseases. Furthermore, open channels of sewage and piles of waste litter the landscape making conditions ripe for the rapid spread of disease as well.

Living conditions in refugee camps are uncomfortable and cramped, with poor infrastructure and no place for children to play. These camps suffer from limited housing, weak social services. This has become worse since the number of camps supervised by UNRWA has reduced from 25 to 19.

The last four years have brought more political uncertainty and a bleak outlook thanks to subsequent Israeli administrations, former President Trump’s partisan attitude towards the conflict and the disarray within Palestinian politics.

In Lebanon, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories, people face many similar struggles but have also experienced specific violence and oppression because of where they are and their legal status under occupation or as refugees.

You may assume that Palestinian refugees only live outside Palestine, in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. However, there are also refugees who live in the West Bank and Gaza, with 22 camps in the West Banks housing approximately 176,000 refugees, and 12 camps in Gaza with 478,000 refugees.

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