Palestinians in Syria suffer. 50 students per classroom. Ghettos of packed temporary housing on the outskirts of Syria’s major cities.
But they fare better than Palestinians in other Arab countries. The refugee camps in Damascus are the most well funded and largest in the world. Palestinians also have Syrian nationality, and the right to work, unlike in neighbouring Lebanon.
But they are still refugee camps. So UNRWA – the UN agency which provides health and education for the refugees – and GAPAR, the Syrian government agency responsible for the refugees want to improve their lives. They want to make the camps self-sufficient within 5 years.
The agencies want to allow the communities to support themselves, backed up by the security net of government and UNRWA support.
One of the first projects was to move 25,000 people (5000 families) who’ve been living in military barracks in Aleppo. They’ve been moved to the Ein Al-Tal camp nearby, into newly built flats. In the barracks, five families lived together, with appaling hygine and no sewage or ventilation systems. They also lacked drinking water.
Another 300 families (1500 people) will be transferred next year.
Syria is host to 400,000 official Palestinian refugees, and UNRWA provides free education in 115 schools. Most Palestinians in Syria fled from Palestine when they were ethnically cleansed in 1948 from their homes in Haifa and Jaffa on the coast of what is now Israel.