Deir El-Balah Camp

Deir El-Balah camp is the smallest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, west of a town of the same name, in central Gaza. Deir al-Balah means "Monastery of the Dates", a reference to the abundant date palm groves in the area.

Deir El-Balah camp initially provided shelter for around 9,000 refugees, who had fled from villages in central and southern Palestine as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The refugees originally lived in tents, which were replaced by mud-brick shelters and, later, by cement block structures. There are now more than 24,525 refugees living in the camp.

Deir El-Balah camp. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Tamer Hamam
Deir El-Balah camp. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Tamer Hamam

Life under the blockade is increasingly difficult for camp residents, as unemployment has risen enormously. Fewer and fewer families can provide for themselves and most of the population is now dependent on UNRWA food and cash assistance. Basic hygiene is also of great concern in the camp, where 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Fishing limit

Like Beach camp, Deir El-Balah camp has been particularly affected by the Israel Defense Forces’ imposition of a three-mile fishing limit. A diminished fishing catch has caused refugees to lose their livelihoods and poverty to increase.

Major problems

Some of the challenges facing camp residents include high unemployment rates, overcrowdedness, a contaminated water supply and an unpredictable power supply.


We provide services in 8 Palestine refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA does not administer or police the camps, as this is the responsibility of the host authorities.

Quick Facts

Refugees in camps

24,525 registered refugees live in Deir El-Balah camp

Official camps

The smallest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Deir El-Balah was set up immediately after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war

Unrwa In Deir El-Balah Camp


Eight school buildings, accommodating 13 schools (most working on double shifts)

Health Centre

One health centre provides primary health services to refugees in the camp

UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees