Khan Eshieh Camp

UNRWA health clinic rehabilitated in 2017 in Khan Eshieh camp, Rif Damascus © 2021 UNRWA Photo by Sami Uqleh
UNRWA health clinic rehabilitated in 2017 in Khan Eshieh camp, Rif Damascus © 2021 UNRWA Photo by Sami Uqleh

Khan Eshieh camp lies beside the ancient ruins of Khan Eshieh, 27 km south-west of Damascus. The Khan historically served as an overnight shelter for trade caravans on the road between Damascus and the southwest and, in 1948, it provided shelter for the first refugees from Palestine. The camp was established in 1949 on an area of 0.69 square kilometres. Historically, the camp has been inhabited by those displaced by the conflict in 1948, as well as Palestinians who had taken refuge in the Golan Heights and were displaced as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli hostilities.

Before the conflict in Syria, the camp was home to more than 20,000 Palestine refugees. In 2012, the farms and fields surrounding the camp became active battlegrounds in which heavy weapons were deployed, often indiscriminately. The population dropped to 2,000 individuals in 2016. As of 2021, a total of 13,000 Palestine refugees are residing inside the camp.

During the crisis, UNRWA strived to maintain support to Palestine refugees through limited services offered in three schools, a health clinic, a community centre and a sanitation office. The Agency’s work was impeded by the fact that between 2013 and 2016, humanitarian access to Khan Eshieh was constrained, with no medical supplies being allowed into the camp. This lack of access meant that Palestine refugees travelled long distances to UNRWA distribution centres in Sahnaya gathering or Khan Dunoun camp to receive assistance.

Some of the camp's buildings and infrastructure were severely affected including some UNRWA installations; two UNRWA schools and the community centre were almost razed to the ground. In December 2016, UNRWA was able to re-access Khan Eshieh camp and the Agency was able to rehabilitate some of its installations. Residents have also slowly started to return, with the camp now accommodating 13,000 people. 

Before 2011, the majority of Palestine refugees in Khan Eshieh camp were well educated and worked as teachers or civil servants. Others were employed as farmworkers on Syrian-owned lands and manual workers at the nearby workshops.

Like in other areas of Syria, displacement, unemployment, inflation, protection and security risks – including related to contamination by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) – are among the main concerns shared by Palestine refugees and Syrians alike. The conflict, ongoing for over 10 years, 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.

 

UNRWA INSTALLATIONS:
  • Four double-shift schools in two buildings, which were both rehabilitated in 2017 and 2018
  • Two destroyed school buildings
  • One food distribution centre (did not need rehabilitation)
  • One health centre (rehabilitated in 2017)
  • One community centre (completely destroyed): UNRWA services are provided in a rented community centre
  • One kindergarten
  • One sanitation office
  • One social worker office (needs rehabilitation)

 

PROGRAMMES IN THE CAMP:
  • Emergency assistance
  • Health
  • Education
  • Relief and Social Services
  • ICIP/sanitation
  • Microfinance
  • Protection

REFUGEE CAMPS IN Syria

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.