Factsheet: Palestinian refugees in Syria

Posted by Caabu on 17 Dec 2012

Palestinian Refugees in Syria


On Sunday 16 December 2012, a Syrian Air Force jet bombed Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in a suburb of Damascus, hitting a mosque in the centre of the camp. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 8 killed in the attack.

Yarmouk camp houses the largest concentration of Palestinian refugees in Syria. It has a population of around 150,000 over 2.1km².

Around half of Yarmouk’s population are under the age of 25.

This is not the first time the Assad regime has attacked a Palestinian refugee camp.  In August 2011 government shelling in Latakia reportedly displaced half of the 10,000 resident Palestinians.

As of 1 January the United Nations registered 486,946 refugees in Syria across 9 camps.

There are 118 schools, with 66,586 pupils.

Most of the refugees arrived in Syria in 1948 after the formation of Israel which saw around 750,000 Palestinians expelled or fleeing violence to various countries in the region. A few thousand refugees fled to Syria from Lebanon during the 1982 war with Israel.

See here for an interactive map of the camps.

Since the outbreak of civil war in Syria, 500 Palestinian refugees from Syria have fled to Jordan and reportedly 12,000 to Lebanon.

According to the United Nations, serious issues affecting the camps can include:

  • Lack of a proper sewage system
  • High rate of school dropouts and child labour
  • Child labour
  • Drug addiction
  • Water shortages
  • High unemployment rate
  • Poverty
  • Overcrowding
  • Exposure to disease from scavenging through discarded materials.
  • Substance and alcohol abuse, leading to violence among young people
  • Chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, cardiac and lung diseases)
  • Lack of opportunities for self-development
  • Widespread leishmaniasis, a skin disease acquired from waste water.
  • Blood disease
  • Living costs disproportionate to income
  • Health problems caused by economic and psychological pressure