Balata Camp

Balata camp is located in the northern West Bank in Nablus city. Originally intended to serve approximately 5,000 Palestine refugees, it is today the largest camp in the West Bank and home to 27,000 people.

Balata refugee camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot
Balata refugee camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot

Overcrowding and poor infrastructure is common throughout the camp. Over the years, construction of new residences has encroached on public spaces, with many streets having become narrow alleys with barely sufficient space for people to pass. The lack of space has also meant that many refugees now live without a sense of privacy and living space. UNRWA facilities remain one of few safe spaces for children to play outdoors.

Life in the camp is intensified by weekly search and arrest operations conducted by Israeli Security Forces (ISF). These often occur at night, resulting in damage to residents’ homes and a sense of fear and anxiety, especially among young children. Residents also report that ISF use the camp for training and regularly enter the camp when accompanying settlers visiting Joseph’s Tomb, located nearby.

Balata refugee camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot
Balata refugee camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot

Residents consider high unemployment to be one of the main challenges in their lives, with the level of poverty and food insecurity among the highest in the West Bank camps. With almost 60 per cent of camp residents under the age of 25, youth are especially affected. This has contributed to a pronounced sense of frustration about their immediate prospects as well as the future.

Despite the major challenges facing residents, Balata camp is known for its strong civil society and has a large number of active community organizations.

Read more about Balata refugee camp

REFUGEE CAMPS IN the West Bank

We provide services in 19 Palestine refugee camps in the West Bank. UNRWA does not administer or police the camps, as this is the responsibility of the host authorities.

Quick Facts

Refugees in camps

  • Approximately 17,700 live in Balata camp
  • Population density in the camp is estimated at 108,000 per sq km

Official camps

  • Balata camp was established in 1950
  • The camp sits on 0.25 sq km
Unrwa In Balata Camp

Schools

  • UNRWA runs two girls’ schools and two boys’ schools in Balata camp, serving a total of 2,500 students

Health Centre

  • The Balata health clinic serves almost 50,000 refugees from both inside and outside the camp
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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