Since the 1948 Israeli War, more than 5 million Palestinians have fled their homes, taking refuge outside of their homeland. Of those, more than 1.5 million individuals are registered in refugee camps across the Middle East.
hile in Jordan in 2016 I had the opportunity to spend time in the "Jerash" camp -- an area currently home to 29,000 registered Palestinian refugees. Initially established in 1968 as an emergency settlement for the some 11,500 displaced persons who had left the Gaza Strip, the tents have been replaced by shelters - many made of asbestos - and the population has and continues to grow. According the UNRWA, the Jerash camp is the poorest among the ten Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, with 52.7 percent of Palestine refugees having an income below the national poverty line.
In September of 1982 Lebanese Christian militiamen entered the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in West Beirut; over the course of three days, Israeli forces sealed the camp and several thousand refugees were killed. While in Lebanon in late 2016 I had the privilege of visiting the Shatila camp. Today, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are barred from 30 syndicated professions and only 2 percent of Palestinians in nonprofessional jobs have proper work permits. They do not have passports. They are prohibited from owning and inheriting property. Denied the right of returnPalestine, these individuals are born refugees, they will grow up as refugees and they will more than likely die as refugees.