Balata Refugee Camp

Balata was established in 1950 and has become the largest West Bank camp in terms of inhabitants, with over 23,000 registered refugees. The camp’s .252 square kilometres lie within the municipal boundaries of Nablus. The refugees came from 60 villages and the cities of Lydd, Jaffa and Ramleh. Many are of Bedouin origin.

Civil society and political actors in Balata are especially strong. The first West Bank group to defend refugee rights, the Refugee Committee to Defend Refugee Rights, was established in Balata in early 1994. The camp committee is one of the most active committees in the area; three of its members serve on the Palestinian Legislative Council. The youth activities centre and the women’s programme centre organize many activities as well. The camp fell under serious pressure from the Israeli army during the intifada.

While all shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure through the Nablus Municipality, there are serious water and sewerage network problems. In summer, distribution systems only work four days per week, and UNRWA’s local reservoir provides limited relief. A municipal improvement project recently seriously improved the camp’s roads.

Registered Refugees

  • Total: 23,600 (December 2007)
  • Average family size: 4.8
  • Poverty rate: 24.1%; 11.8% in absolute poverty
  • Unemployment rate: 24.8%; affected by inaccessibility of the Israeli labor market.
  • Average monthly income: NIS 1,342
  • Average Age: 23
  • Demographic Profile
Age: 0-14 15-24 25-60 Over 60
Percentage of Refugees 40.1 21.2 34.4 4.4

UNRWA Education Programme

  • Schools: 4 elementary/preparatory schools
  • Pupils: 2778

UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme

  • Food distribution centre: 1
  • Social Safety Net (SSN) Programme beneficiaries: 648 families
  • UNRWA collects trash and delivers it directly to the Nablus municipal landfill.
  • 74 of 81 shelters damaged by IDF incursions during the second intifada repaired.

UNRWA Health Programme

  • UNRWA health centre: 1
  • 1 Emergency Physiotherapy unit
  • Other health centres: 8. 1 additional health centre run by the Yazir Charity, 1 dental clinic and 6 private clinics

UNRWA Microfinance Programme

  • Loan beneficiaries: 160 residents
  • Total value: $150,847

UNRWA Emergency Programme

  • 3064 families receiving emergency food and cash assistance
  • 762 refugees benefited from the emergency employment

Community Services

  • 1 Community based Rehabilitation Centre
  • 1 youth activity centre

  • 2 children’s center

  • 4 kindergartens

  • 1 women’s programme center

  • 3 mosques

  • 1 library

  Pictures and Video by Mika and Kelly

Balata Invasion 2005 Pictures

Balata Invasion - a set on Flickr

The Sun doesn’t shine in Balata Film 35mins