Palestinian Refugee Camps in Syria:
In Syria, UNRWA is mandated to provide health, education, and relief and social services to more than 467,000 Palestine refugees living in nine official and three unofficial camps.
Most of the Palestine refugees who fled to the Syrian Arab Republic in 1948 were from the northern part of Palestine, mainly from Safad and the cities of Haifa and Jaffa. A further 100,000 people, including Palestine refugees, fled from the Golan Heights to other parts of Syria when the area was occupied by Israel. A few thousand refugees fleeing war-torn Lebanon in 1982 also took refuge in Syria.
The Syrian Government has taken on the responsibility for providing basic utilities in the camps, but UNRWA provides basic environmental health services including sewage and waste disposal and provision of safe drinking water.
Many of the water and sewerage systems need upgrading, while some camps still lack networks altogether. Poor sanitation in the camps poses health risks for the refugees. In most of the refugee camps shelters remain very basic, and many require structural rehabilitation.
Palestinian Refugee Camps
Dera'a refugee camp is located north of Dera’a City and is locally divided into three parts: northern, emergency and old. Palestinian refugees came to the Dera’a area in two waves in 1948 and in 1967.
The camp was established in 1950 on an area of 0.06 square kilometres overlooking the Orontes river. Most of the refugees had fled from the villages surrounding Haifa and Acre in northern Palestine. It is located within the town of Hama, 210km north of Damascus.
The camp was established in 1949 on an area of 0.15 square kilometres, adjacent to al-Baath University. Most of the original refugees fled from the villages surrounding Haifa , Tabaryeh and Acre in northern Palestine. It is located within the town of Homs, 160km north of Damascus.
The camp was established in 1948 on an area of 0.03 square kilometres. In 1967, Palestinians who had taken refuge in the Golan Heights and were displaced as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war moved into the camp. It is located 8km from Damascus on the road to Damascus International Airport.
Khan Dunoun camp is near the ruins of Khan Dunoun, which was built several centuries ago to give overnight accommodation to trading caravans on the ancient route between Jerusalem and Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). In 1948, the ruins provided shelter for refugees from villages in northern Palestine. The camp, which is located 23km south of Damascus, was officially established in 1950-1951 on an area of 0.03 square kilometres.
The Khan Eshieh camp historically served as an overnight shelter for trade caravans on the road between Damascus and the southwest. This Khan provided shelter for the first refugees from Palestine in 1948. The camp was established in 1949 on an area of 0.69 square kilometres. It is located beside the ancient ruins of Khan Eshieh, 27km south-west of Damascus.
The camp was established between 1948-1950 for refugees from northern Palestine on 0.15 square kilometres in and around army barracks constructed by the Allied Forces during World War II. It is the largest official camp in Syria and is located 13km east of the city of Aleppo near the Aleppo airport.
Qabr Essit was established on an area of 0.02 square kilometres. The inhabitants, who were displaced from the Quneitra Governorate in the Golan Heights during the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, sought refuge for the second time in their lives in Qabr Essit. Most had originally fled to the Golan Heights in 1948 from nearby villages in northern Palestine. Qabr Essit camp, 15km from Damascus, is located near the town of Sayyedeh Zeinab (granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad).
The camp was established in 1948 on an area of 0.03 square kilometres in what has become a busy industrial area. It also accommodates Palestine refugees who were displaced as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It is located beside Sbeineh town, 14km south of Damascus.
Yarmouk camp is home to the largest Palestine refugee community in Syria. It is located 8km from the centre of Damascus and is inside the city boundaries. Yarmouk resembles an urban quarter, and it looks very different from the other Palestine refugee concentrations in Syria.