Khan Dunoun Camp

UNRWA is committed to provide quality education and safe environment to Palestine refugee students, Beit Lahia School, Khan Dunoun camp, Rif Damascus© 2018 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohammad.
UNRWA is committed to provide quality education and safe environment to Palestine refugee students, Beit Lahia School, Khan Dunoun camp, Rif Damascus© 2018 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohammad.

Khan Dunoun camp lies near the ruins of Khan Dunoun, which was built several centuries ago to give overnight accommodation to trading caravans on the ancient route between Jerusalem and Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). In 1948, the ruins provided shelter for refugees from villages in northern Palestine.

The camp, which lies 23 km south of Damascus, was officially established in 1950-1951 on an area of 0.03 square kilometres. The camp was home to 10,000 Palestine refugees by 2011, almost all of whom were living in irregular housing, constructed without any formal approval from the municipality.

Before the conflict in Syria, Khan Dunoun was already one of the poorest camps in Syria. Most refugees worked as farm workers on Syrian-owned lands, others are wage labourers, while a few commuted to industrial plants.  

The conflict exerted additional pressures. The camp was surrounded by armed opposition groups and many refugee families, displaced from other areas of Damascus, took refuge in the camp, tripling the number of residents to over 30,000 during the crisis. Two UNRWA schools premises were converted into collective shelters to give accommodation to more than 130 families between 2012 and 2018.  As of end of 2021, the camp is home to appx 13,705 Palestine refugees. 

The expansion of the camp and the increase of the camp population have had a negative impact on the camp’s infrastructure, affecting the electric network and the sewerage system. The camp suffers from sporadic sewage blockages due to the increased pressure on the existent sewerage system, which was designed for only 10,000 inhabitants, while there are now significantly more (13,705 individuals). Water supply resources have also been affected and the camp suffers from water shortages, especially during the summer months.

Many schoolchildren have dropped out or work after school hours to support their families. The camp also suffers from a high incidence of inherited diseases such as thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia. This is difficult to combat because in such a poor community, marriage between first cousins is common and marriages outside the extended family are unaffordable for many.

Like in other areas of Syria, displacement, unemployment, inflation, and protection risks are among the main concerns shared by Palestine refugees and Syrians alike. The ongoing over 10 years long conflict has led to an increase in negative coping mechanisms, like early marriage, child labour and drug consumption, as well as an increase in violence and psychological problems. UNRWA, despite financial constraints, has enhanced its efforts to do preventative and awareness raising activities and to provide psychosocial support through its schools and the community centre. The already very dire situation is now compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic decline of the economic situation. If not adequately addressed, poverty and protection concerns will increase and are likely to lead to a further deterioration of the socio-economic situation of the already very vulnerable Palestine refugee community.


  • Two double-shift schools
  • One food distribution centre
  • One health centre
  • One community centre
  • One sanitation office


  • Emergency assistance
  • Health
  • Education
  • Relief and Social Services
  • ICIP/sanitation
  • Microfinance
  • Protection


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