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Source: IRIN
4 October 2010

MIDDLE EAST: Refugees and IDPs by country

MADRID, 4 October 2010 (IRIN) - The refugee and displacement problem is one of the most complex humanitarian issues facing the Middle East, aid workers say.

Elizabeth Campbell, senior advocate at US NGO Refugees International, believes it is likely the Middle East hosts the highest number of refugees and asylum-seekers in the world. She underlined the need to find lasting solutions: "Any time that people remain uprooted and have not been afforded basic rights or pathways to durable solutions, it is a humanitarian crisis."

IRIN takes a look at the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region, and the main issues they face.



Israel is a state party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

The total number of displaced Palestinians worldwide is 7.1 million, including 6.6 million refugees and 427,000 IDPs.

Palestinian refugees live in the Middle East, mainly in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In 1949 the UN established the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which operates in oPt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. A further 340,016 Palestinians are registered with UNHCR.

A total of 1,310 refugees and 1,062 asylum-seekers from Israel are registered with UNHCR.


(Sources: UNHCR, BADIL, UNRWA and Human Rights Watch)


Jordan is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

Around 1.9 million Palestinians are registered with UNRWA. Unlike any other host country, Jordan granted all Palestinian refugees full citizenship rights, except for the 120,000 Palestinians who originally came from the Gaza Strip.


(Sources: UNHCR and UNRWA)


Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

Around 425,000 Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA, while around 3,000 are not registered and have no identity documents. About 53 percent of registered refugees live in 12 official refugee camps across the country, while the rest live in cities, towns and informal refugee camps.

Living conditions for most refugees - Palestinian or otherwise - are precarious. Palestinian refugees are barred from public sector jobs, though in August 2010, after decades of campaigning, a
law was passed in Lebanon's parliament allowing them to request work permits for private sector employment.


(Sources: Al-Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network, BADIL, UNHCR and UNRWA)


Theme(s): Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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