A Guide to the Palestinian Refugee Camps

Which districts in Palestine did the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon originate from?

Based on data collected by UNRWA in 1950 and 1951:

59% : Galilee — Acre, Beisan, Hula, Nazareth, Safad, and Tiberias
28% : Haifa
11% : Yafa, Ramle, and Lydda
1.5% : Jerusalem and surroundings
0.5% : Nablus and Jenin

Where did the refugees live in 1951?

Based on UNRWA data from June 1951:

68% : in shacks
20% : in tents
12% : in Mosques and monasteries

Guide to the refugee camps:

There were 15 refugee camps in Lebanon, located in five areas: Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre, and Beqa`a. All of them were established after the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and prior to the 1967 war. None of the camps have been expanded since they were established.

1. Burj el-Barajne : established in 1948, on 104 dunams of land; was considered one of the biggest camps in Beirut. It is located on the main road leading to the Beirut International Airport. 40% of the camp’s population originates from Tarshiha in northern Palestine. According to UNRWA records, 20,405 registered refugees live in the camp. In 1995 the number of camp inhabitants according to UNRWA stood at 13,812. In 1985, during the “war of the camps”, when AMAL besieged the camp, the people were forced to eat cats and dogs. But soon they went out of cats and dogs, and the chief cleric in the camp appealed to Muslim scholars to issue a fatwa (edict) that would allow the people to eat human flesh to avoid starvation…

2. Ain el-Helwe: established in 1948 on 420 dunams, it is the largest camp in Lebanon. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Sidon. In 1995 it had a population of 38,483. Today, it has a population of approximately 70,000.

3. Rashidiye: located some 15km south of the city of Tyre, South Lebanon. It was established in 1948 on 267 dunams. In 1995 it had a population of 22, 524. Today, its population stands at 29,361.

4. Miye w Miye: located east of the city of Sidon. It was established in 1948 on 54 dunams. In 1995, it had a population of 3,963. Today, it has a population of 4,569. In 1982, half the camp was completely leveled and thousands of its inhabitants evicted by zionists and their fascist allies.

5. Sabra and Shatila: established in 1949 on 39.6 dunams. They are located in west Beirut. The population current stands at 8,370. The camps are ‘best known’ for the massacre of more than 3,500 defenseless civilians, mostly women and children, at the hands of zionist death squads and their fascist allies. Most of the victims were Palestinians, but there were also many Lebanese, mostly Shi’ites.

6. Tal el-Za`tar: established in 1949 on 56.65 dunams in north-east of Beirut. It was besieged by zionist-allied fascists in 1976, who openly boasted of planning to “purify” the area. Following its surrender, 1,500 of its inhabitants were massacred in a single day. Another 2,000 were killed during the siege or died as a result of it. The camp was completely liquidated.

7. el-Bass: established in 1949 on 80 dunams, it adjoins the city of Tyre. In 1995 it had a population of 8,135. Today it has a population of 9,508.

8. Nahr el-Bared: the second largest camp, after Ain el-Helwe. Established in 1949 on 200 dunams, it is located some 15km north of the city of Tripoli, North Lebanon. In 1995 it had a population of 25,000. Today, it has a population of 31,303. Much of the camp was destroyed recently in fighting between the Lebanese Army and the Salafi group Fatah al-Islam, funded by the Hariri dynasty and Saudi Arabia.

9. Wavel: one of the least-known of the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. Established in 1949 on 43.44 dunams, it is located on the outskirts of the city of Ba`albak. In 1995 it had a population of 6,705. Today, it has a population of 7,668.

10. Mar Elias: established in 1952 on 54 dunams. It is a camp inhabited by Christian Palestinians. In 2002 it had a population of 1,406. Today it has 616 inhabitants.

11. Burj el-Shamali: established in 1955 on 136 dunams, it is located about 5km east of the city of Tyre. Today, it has a population of 19,074.

12. Baddawi: established in 1955-1956, it is located some 5km north of the city of Tripoli. Today it has a population of 15,947.

13. Dbayeh: established in 1956 on 13.6 dunams, it is located north-east of Beirut. In 1995 it had a population of 3,949. Today, it has a population of 4,025.

14. Nabatiye: established in 1956, it was located 3km west of the city of Nabatiye, South Lebanon. The majority of its inhabitants were from the Hula area of Palestine, particularly the villages of al-Khalisa, al-Na`ima, al-Zouq, al-Qaytiya, and Salha. It was destroyed completely in 1974 by ‘Israeli’ jets. The remaining inhabitants escaped to nearby villages, while others moved to Sidon, Shhim, the Beqa`a, and Baddawi camp.

15. Jisr al-Basha: established in 1952. It was located not far from the Tal el-Za`tar camp. Its inhabitants were Catholic Palestinians from Haifa, Acre, and Yafa. It was destroyed in 1976 by the fascist allies of ‘Israel.’

An estimated 55,450 Palestinians live outside the camps. In addition, the overwhelming majority of Christian Palestinians have been naturalized.

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