Amman New Camp




Jabal el-Hussein














+ 70 refugees distributed throughout the camps.

Ten official Palestine refugee camps are located in Jordan. They accommodate 337,571 registered refugees, or 17 per cent of the 1.9 million refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan. Four of the camps were set up on the east bank of the Jordan River after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and six after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In addition, there are three neighbourhoods in Amman, Zarqa and Madaba which are considered camps by the Government of Jordan, and "unofficial" camps by UNRWA. The population of the ten camps, the three "unofficial" camps and the refugees residing in the vicinity of camps live under similar socio-economic conditions and together make up an estimated 65 per cent of the Palestine refugees in Jordan.

In 1948, an estimated 100,000 refugees crossed the Jordan River and initially took shelter in temporary camps, in mosques and schools, or in towns and villages. International organizations, mainly the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), provided emergency assistance for the refugees until May 1950 when UNRWA started its operations.

The first camp, Zarqa, was set up in 1949 by the ICRC, where a large number of the refugees had gathered near the town of Zarqa, some 25 kilometers north east of Amman. Between 1951-1954 three more camps were set up; two in the Amman area and one in Irbid, north Jordan.

The refugees were accommodated in tents until the late 1950s when UNRWA replaced the tents with more durable shelters. Each new shelter was a brick room with asbestos roofing. A family of 4-5 members had one room of 12 square metres, and a family of 6-8 had two rooms on a plot of land not exceeding 80-100 square metres. The refugees were able to construct additional rooms as the family grew by birth and marriage. However, with the fourth generation of refugees now becoming adults, the shelters and surrounding plots of land have become fully utilized as living space so that the camps today are highly congested and overcrowded.

Many of the camps are now surrounded by residential areas as a result of the growth in the Jordanian population and the subsequent development of the towns and cities. The camps have developed into quarters resembling the neighbourhoods around them due to the refugees themselves who have worked hard to improve their conditions and to the Government of Jordan, which has invested large amounts of funds to provide the camps with basic infrastructure.

In 1967 following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip there was another influx of refugees into Jordan. Some 140,000 persons, already registered refugees with UNRWA, were part of the new exodus together with about 240,000 citizens of the West Bank who are referred to as "displaced persons" (the West Bank was administered by Jordan between 1948-1967). These new refugees took shelter in temporary camps in the Jordan Valley. When military operations escalated in the area they had to be moved to safer areas elsewhere in Jordan. In early 1968, six tented "emergency" camps were established for these refugees and displaced persons. UNRWA later replaced the tents with pre-fabricated shelters and the refugees themselves have now replaced the prefabs with concrete structures. Although there has been enormous improvements in the " 1967 emergency" camps over the years, they remain less developed than those established in the 1950s. Some of them lack basic infrastructure and public services, especially the camps in remote areas.

UNRWA coordinates with the Jordanian government's Department of Palestinian Affairs (DPA) as well as with the camps' improvement committees. Members of these committees are selected by the DPA from amongst community leaders and refugee notables who in effect take on the role of municipal councils.

The infrastructure of the camps is primarily the responsibility of the host government. However, UNRWA's sanitation and technical departments work hand-in-hand with the DPA and camp committees to help improve roads, pathways and drainage.

All Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan, whether they live in camps or outside camps, are eligible for UNRWA services. However, those living in or near camps, generally the poorest of the refugees, have easier access to Agency services.

All Palestine refugees in Jordan have full Jordanian citizenship with the exception of about 120,000 refugees originally from the Gaza Strip, which up to 1967 was administered by Egypt. They are eligible for temporary Jordanian passports, which do not entitle them to full citizenship rights such as the right to vote and employment with the government.