Wed 10-July-2024

On World Refugee Day: Over 6 million Palestinians suffer from displacement

Thursday 20-June-2024


Today, June 20th, marks World Refugee Day, a day established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of refugees, highlighting their struggles and needs, and discussing ways to support and assist them amid growing crises and increasing numbers of refugees.

According to data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 6 million refugees are still registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Palestine and the diaspora, suffering from displacement due to being forcibly removed from their lands during the Nakba of 1948.

UNRWA records indicate that as of January 2022, approximately 5.9 million Palestinian refugees were registered, with around 2.5 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These refugees constitute about 42% of the total Palestinian refugees (15% in the West Bank and 27% in Gaza).

In the Arab countries, the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan is about 40% of the total Palestinian refugees, while in Lebanon and Syria, it is approximately 8% and 10%, respectively. These estimates represent the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, as there are unregistered refugees. This number does not include those displaced after 1949 up until the eve of the June 1967 war, nor does it include Palestinians who were displaced in 1967 and were not originally refugees.

Refugees in Gaza and the West Bank

In 2017, refugees accounted for about 42.2% of the total population in the State of Palestine, with 26.3% of the population in the West Bank and 66.1% in Gaza being refugees.

Since the Nakba in 1948, more than 136,000 Palestinians and Arabs have been martyred, both within and outside of Palestine. From the start of the second Intifada in 2000 until April 30, 2024, approximately 46,500 people were martyred. More than 37,500 were martyred during the Israeli aggression on Gaza from October 7, 2023, to June 13, 2024, including over 15,162 children, 10,018 women, and more than 147 journalists.

Over 7,000 citizens, most of them women and children, are missing according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health records in Gaza. In the West Bank, 520 people have been martyred since the start of the Israeli aggression on October 7, 2023. Approximately 2 million people have been displaced within Gaza, fleeing from their homes.

Economic and social conditions

There are no significant differences in the social and economic conditions between Palestinian refugees and non-refugees across the region. Education indicators show that the illiteracy rate among Palestinian refugees in the West Bank is about 1.9%, compared to 2.3% for non-refugees. In Gaza, this rate is 1.7% for refugees and 2.0% for non-refugees.

In 2022, unemployment rates among refugees in Gaza were 47%, compared to 42% for non-refugees. In the West Bank, the unemployment rate among refugees was 14%, compared to 13% for non-refugees. Due to the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza since October 7, 2023, unemployment rates have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, estimated to reach 75% in the fourth quarter of 2023, up from 46% in the third quarter. This means at least 200,000 jobs were lost in the first three months of the aggression.

The number of unemployed rose to 317,000 in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to around 129,000 in the third quarter before the aggression. In the West Bank, unemployment rates among the labor force in the fourth quarter of 2023 increased to about 32% from around 13% in the third quarter.

Impact on education

Due to the continuous bombardment of Gaza, the educational process has been disrupted since the beginning of the aggression, depriving about 620,000 students of their right to school education for the 2023/2024 academic year. The number of student martyrs in Palestine is 6,050, with 5,994 in Gaza and 56 in the West Bank. The number of injured students is 10,219, with 9,890 in Gaza and 329 in the West Bank. Additionally, 105 students from the West Bank have been detained.

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