Mon 21 Sep 2020

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Established after 1948… Camps of Palestinian refugees in Syria

Two boys riding their bicycles in front of a tank and destroyed buildings in the Yarmouk camp in 2018 (The Daily Star)

Two boys riding their bicycles in front of a tank and destroyed buildings in the Yarmouk camp in 2018 (The Daily Star)

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Since 1948, displaced Palestinian refugees have come to Syria and settled in nine official camps. They became part of the Syrian society, with more than 500 thousand Palestinian refugees concentrated mainly in the “Yarmouk” camp, southern Damascus, and other camps and areas before 2011.

The Palestinians in Syria are distributed in the “al-Nayrab” camp in Aleppo, “Hama” camp, “Homs” camp, “Khan al-Shih” camp, “Khan Dannun” camp, “Sbeineh” camp, “Qabr Essit” camp, “Jaramana” camp and “Daraa” camp in southern Syria.

Nevertheless, the informal “Yarmouk” camp is considered the largest in terms of its population. According to estimates of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the “Yarmouk” camp was home to 144 thousand persons.

“Al-Nayrab” camp

According to the official Palestinian News and Info Agency, WAFA, the al-Nayrab camp was established between 1948 and 1950 in barracks left by coalition forces during World War II, 13 kilometers east of Aleppo city, near the airport.

The al-Nayrab camp covers 148 square kilometers and has a population of 19,250 refugees, distributed in 4,618 families.

The residents of the al-Nayrab camp descend from the Palestinian Upper al-Jaleel areas, the cities of Safad, Akka, Haifa, Tabariya, and the villages of At-Tira, Lubya, Tarshiha, Hattin, al-Kuikat, al-Safsaf, al-Shajara, and Ain Ghazal.

The Syrian regime has exploited the “al-Nayrab” camp’s youth, armed them and included them in the “Jerusalem Brigade,” the most military militant formations active beside the regime in the Syrian Badia, in search of the sleeper cells of the so-called the “Islamic State (IS)” organization.

“Hama” camp

It was established near Hama city in 1950 over an area of 85 square kilometers. The Hama camp overlooks the Orontes River, 200 kilometers north of Damascus. According to WAFA, the camp’s population is estimated at 8,250 refugees, distributed in 2,012 families.

Some camp families descend from the “Arab al-Ghawarneh” clan, which comes from the district of Akka.

The Hama camp’s residents come down from the cities of northern Palestine and the coastal cities of (Safad, Haifa, Akka, Jaffa), and from the villages of Tarshiha, Az-Zeeb, Ain Zeitoun, al-Birwa, Miaar, Sha’ab, al-Jish and Ad-Dhahiriya.

“Homs” camp

It was established between 1948 and 1949 in the center of Homs city, 160 kilometers north of Damascus.

The camp is also known as the “Returnees” camp, and has an area of 150 square kilometers near the “al-Baath University.” It was essentially a military camp for the French mandate forces, containing barracks and military buildings.

When first established, the number of the “Homs” camp’s residents reached about 3,500 persons, while in 2011, the number of Palestinian refugees increased to 22 thousand persons, according to WAFA.

The camp’s residents descend from the cities of Haifa, Jaffa, Akka, al-Nasirah (Nazareth), Tabariya, and from the villages of Tarshiha, al-Shajara, Tirat Haifa, Ain Zeitoun, al-Jish, Az-Zeeb, Lubya, Miaar, Amka, al-Farradiyya, Deir al-Assad, Nahir, Ad-Dhahiriya, and Safouriyah.

“Khan al-Shih” camp

It is located southwest of the Syrian capital, Damascus, near the Khan al-Shih village with an area of 690 square kilometers, and an estimated population of 19 thousand registered refugees in 2011, according to WAFA.

The camp is considered the second-largest Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, and the majority of its Palestinian residents come from the districts of Tabariya and al-Nasirah (Nazareth).

“Khan Dannun” camp

It was established between 1950 and 1951, southern Damascus, 23 kilometers close to the ruins of Khan Dannun.

According to WAFA, the camp was established on an area of 120 square kilometers and houses about 10 thousand registered refugees distributed in 2,346 families.

Most of the camp’s residents descend from the villages of the al-Houleh Plain of Safad district, namely, al-Mallaha, al-Salihiyya, Jahula, al-Dawwara, al-Khalisa, al-Zuq, Khiyam al-Walid, and al-Muftakhira, as well as from two Bedouin clans from al-Jaleel, “Tarma” and “al-Sawalima.”

“Sbeineh” camp

It was established in 1948 in an active industrial area near Sbeineh city, 14 kilometers southwestern Damascus, and covers an area of 27 square kilometers.

The camp included 704 houses upon establishment, while its population reached about 21 thousand persons in 2009, distributed in 4,915 families, according to WAFA.

The majority of “Sbeineh” camp residents are from Bedouin tribes in Palestine, such as “al-Talawiyah,” “al-Waheeb,” “al-Mawassi,” “al-Hip,” “al-Qudayriyya” and “al-Shamalneh” neighborhood.

The camp’s Palestinian residents also come from the al-Houleh Plain villages, namely, al-Qaytiyah, al-Khalisa, Jahula, Khiyam al-Walid, and al-Zuq.

Other residents of the camp came in the nineties and descend from the city of Tabariya and its villages.

“Qabr Essit” camp

The camp was set up in the neighborhood of Sayyida Zeinab between 1967 and 1968, 15 kilometers south of Damascus, near the religious shrine of Sayyida Zeinab on an area of 23 square kilometers.

The number of the camp’s houses reached 498 at the time of its establishment, and in 2009 the number of its inhabitants reached about 21,750 refugees distributed in around 4,835 families, according to WAFA.

The residents of the “Qabr Essit” camp descend from the districts of Safad and Tabariya, Gwer Abu Shusha, and the villages of the al-Houleh Plain, namely, al-Salihiyya, al-Dawara, al-‘Abisiyya, al-Khalisa, al-Qaytiyah, al-Zawiya, Jahula, and from the village of al-Mallaha and al-Zuq.

Moreover, the camp’s residents belong to some Palestinian clans, such as “al-Akkayleh,” “al-Waisiyeh,” “al-Talawiyeh,” “al-Zanaghrah,” “al-Shamalneh,” “al-Hip,” “al-Waheeb,” “al-Mawassi,” “al-Subaih,” and “al-Sawalima.”

“Jaramana” camp

It was established in 1948, eight kilometers from Damascus city, on the road to Damascus International Airport, with an area of 30 square kilometers.

In 1985, there were 2,414 dwellings in the “Jaramana” camp, and in 2009, it included 7,978 Palestinian refugees.

The residents of the this camp come from the villages of al-Dawara, al-Salihiyya, al-‘Abisiyya, al-Qaytiyah, al-Zuq, al-Mallaha, Jahula, al-Khisas, al-Zawiya, al-Khalisa, Khiyam al-Walid, al-Na’ima, al-Muftakhira, al-Mansura, and al-Shawka al-Tahta.

The camp includes many clans, such as “al-Waheeb,” “al-Hip,” “Akrad al-Baqara,” “Akrad al-Khayit,” “Akrad al-Ghanameh,” “al-Nawameh,” “al-Talawiyeh,” and “al-Waisiyeh.”

The “Yarmouk” camp

It was established between 1953 and 1954, on an area of 2.2 square kilometers, south of the al-Midan neighborhood in Damascus, and eight kilometers from its center, according to a report by the “Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria (AGPS).”

The Yarmouk camp is considered Syria’s largest concentration place of Palestinian refugees, with more than 100 thousand Palestinian refugees, mostly from the villages of the al-Jaleel district, Haifa villages, Safad, Tabariya, al-Nasirah (Nazareth), Akka, and many Palestinian cities and villages.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians in Syria objected to the Yarmouk camp’s regulatory plan, issued by Damascus governorate in late June, outside the framework of Law No. “10” of 2018.

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