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Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations in Beirut issued a new report on the conditions of the Palestinian refugees in Syria between 15/3/2011 and 15/4/2015. The 28th publication of the Information Report series was prepared by the Archives and Information Department and is available for free download.

The 103-page book presents in its first part the early stages of the Palestinians’ recourse to Syria, exploring their demographic development, where the number of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria reached 560,000, with the largest bloc of refugees concentrated in the capital Damascus and its suburb (around 80%).

To download the report, follow this link:
>> Information Report (28): The Conditions of the Palestinian Refugees in Syria 2011–2015 (in Arabic, 106 pages, 1.3 MB)

The book presents the policy of consecutive Syrian governments vis-à-vis Palestinian refugees before the 2011 events. It highlights the legalization process of the Palestinian presence in Syria since the start of their refuge, which would guarantee their basic rights, including the right to work and the freedom of residence and movement. The book displays other procedures to engage refugees in economic, social, political and cultural aspects of the Syrian society. Decrees, decisions and laws specially tailored for Palestinian refugees were issued to enhance their living conditions, treating them like their Syrian counterparts while maintaining their nationality.

The book then displays the 15 Palestinian factions in Syria, which existed at the start of the crisis in March 2011. Hamas and Fatah movements have strong presence, compared to disparate and weak presence of other factions in some areas, like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Democratic and Popular Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP and PFLP). The PFLP-GC enjoys good relations with the Syrian government, especially the security apparatuses.

The second part of the report tackles the conditions of refugees following 15/3/2011 and the consequent suffering, killing and displacement they had to face. Palestinians among others had to face the destructive repercussions that affected their social fabric and the different aspects of their daily life, especially in the refugee camps. Thus, they were either displaced within Syria seeking relative security, or travelled outside the country in search of safe haven. Those who were displaced outside Syria had to face different kinds of suffering in countries of refuge such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Libya among others. Some even risked their lives and the lives of their children on the boats of death and on international borders while seeking safety. Thousands of Palestinian refugees even fell as victims to the ongoing conflict where some were killed, others wounded, besieged, imprisoned or displaced. Most refugees in al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp (RC)  were displaced while those who remained suffered harsh siege in addition to famine that reaped the lives of tens of refugees.

In February 2015, UNRWA assessed the number of Palestinian refugees who were internally displaced at around 280,000, distributed as follows:

Table 1: Distribution of Internally Displaced Palestinian Refugees

 Damascus  Daraa
 Aleppo  Homs
 Hama  Total
 More than

UNRWA announced that more than 90% of Palestinian refugees in Syria needed urgent aid.

In addition, most Palestinian refugee camps, especially those located in areas of military combat, faced complete or partial destruction. This led to the displacement of Palestinians of these camps, completely or partially, to more secure areas while those who remained faced siege, shortage of services and scarcity of main foodstuffs. 

On top of these camps was al-Yarmouk RC, where number of those who remained was less than 18 thousand as per UNRWA figures, and the number is likely to decrease given the ongoing siege and military fighting there.  

The number of victims, prisoners, and those who are missing highlights the extent of suffering of Palestinian refugees in Syria. As of 16/4/2015, the number amounted to 2,820 documented cases (besides a number of estimated cases), the missing reached 272 while the imprisoned reached 831.

The report then addresses the policy of Syrian government and Syrian opposition factions towards Palestinian refugees. It also talks about refugees who were displaced to neighboring Arab countries and Turkey, and the policies perceived by these countries vis-à-vis the refugees, and their suffering and situation there. It shed light on the death journeys in the Mediterranean and their migration to the West, particularly Europe.

The book also addresses the performance of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian factions in this file. The absence of genuine Palestinian political representation in Syria has perpetuated the suffering of the refugees and exacerbated their targeting on all levels. Their case did not attract enough media coverage from Palestinian sides in general.

Another issue tackled by the book is the standing of Arab and foreign countries towards Palestinian refugees in Syria. It reveals the economic difficulties, legal status, education, availability of health services, in addition to the fact that most countries neighboring Syria prevented their legal entry. Other Arab and Muslim countries failed to pursue measures allowing to receive these Palestinian refugees, thus exacerbating their suffering. 

In February 2015, UNRWA figures revealed that the number of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria exceeded 80 thousand refugees distributed according to the following:

Table 2: Distribution of Palestinian Refugees from Syria as per UNRWA figures in February 2015

 Lebanon  Jordan  Egypt
 Gaza Turkey and Europe Total  
 44,000  15,000
   4,000  1000 40,000

Palestinian refugees in Syria also suffered the failure of international community and its institutions to provide them with security and shelter, thus they became an easy target.

Human rights organizations have accused the international community of the failure to protect Palestinian refugees and they called for providing refugees with security and legal protection and to provide them with aid and relief.

They also expressed strong concern over “catastrophic situation” in al-Yarmouk RC which they said had to pay a heavy price since the breaking out of events in Syria.

The Information Report series was launched by the Information Department of al-Zaytouna Centre in early 2008. It aims at providing periodical, informative, concise and well-documented information set on selected issues of concern on the Arab and Muslim World, specifically the Palestinian issue.



Publication Information

Title: Information Report (28): Waqi‘ al-Laji’in al-Filastiniyyin fi Suriyyah 2011–2015 (The Conditions of the Palestinian Refugees in Syria 2011–2015)

Prepared by:
The Archives and Information Department at AL-Zaytouna Centre

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations

Date of Publishing:
August 2015 (1st edition)

103 pages, 14*21



This report is available fully for free download on al-Zaytouna Centre’s Arabic Website. ( Download)


To download the report, follow this link:
>> Information Report (28): The Conditions of the Palestinian Refugees in Syria 2011–2015
(in Arabic, 106 pages, 1.3 MB) (Right Mouse Click then “Save Target As”)


Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 19/8/2015