Where We Work

As of March 2023, the total number of UNRWA registered Palestine Refugees in Lebanon is 489,292 persons. In addition, UNRWA records show a total of 31,400 Palestine Refugees from Syria residing in Lebanon. However, registration with UNRWA is voluntary; deaths as well as emigration remain often unreported, and refugees can continue registering newborns as they move abroad through the UNRWA online registration system. In 2017, the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee together with the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics carried out a census among Palestinians living in Lebanon and reported a total of 174,000 persons. A total of 45 per cent of Palestine Refugees are estimated to live in the country’s 12 refugee camps. About 200,000 Palestine Refugees access UNRWA services in Lebanon every year. The Agency’s current estimation is that no more than 250,000 Palestine Refugees currently reside in the country.

Poverty rates among Palestine Refugees are high with 80 per cent reported to be living below the national poverty line (adjusted for inflation) as of March 2023. Data modelling confirmed that without the distribution of quarterly cash assistance (at a total value of US$ 18 million in two rounds since December 2022), poverty would stand at 93 per cent. The very high rates of poverty among Palestine Refugees are a result of decades of structural discrimination related to employment opportunities and denial of the right to own property in Lebanon, compounded by the most recent economic, fiscal and monetary crisis in the host country. This affects now the fourth generation of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon that are unable to accumulate and preserve wealth generated and to enter middle class income categories apart from UNRWA employment opportunities. In this context, UNRWA has more than ever become the main reference for humanitarian assistance and basic services for Palestine Refugees. The top priorities voiced by the refugee community are cash assistance and hospitalization coverage.

Despite the support provided by UNRWA, Palestine refugees are facing significant challenges in covering their share of the hospitalization costs. They are no longer able to cover their cost shares. UNRWA does not currently have the resources to fully cover the health needs of the Palestine Refugees. As of March 2023, 30 per cent of total household expenditures was reportedly spent on food alone.

The denial of the right to work in main professions organized by professional syndicates, and the denial to own immovable property as Palestine Refugees live in Lebanon in 4th and 5th generation, leave them without ability to generate and accumulate wealth through ownership and inheritance. They could be much better contributing to the stability and prosperity of their host country otherwise.

The lack of governance in Palestine Refugee camps and the absence of a judicial and law enforcement system, as well as a stalled judicial system in the host country, contribute to an increase in protection risks that remain unattended. Levels of violence against children and gender-based violence are reported to be high, but individuals are often reluctant to seek support due to stigma and fears around lack of confidentiality and reprisals.

Last updated July 2023.


We provide services in 12 Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon. UNRWA does not administer or police the camps, as this is the responsibility of the host authorities.