Photo’s source: / Palestine refugees (British Mandate of Palestine – 1948). “Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948”


“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us – except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.”

Khaled Hosseini, author and a U.S. Goodwill Envoy to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.



In the context of the more than 75 years of conflict between Israel and various organizations from the Palestinian Occupied Territories, Palestinians left and continue to leave the Historical Palestine. As such, nowadays Palestinians are leaving outside their homeland, with significant presence in neighbouring Arab countries and outside the Middle East. This article will identify relatively recent numbers of Palestinians present in different countries or regions and will briefly analyse the situation of Palestinians and Palestinian refugees in relevant countries like Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

Statistics on Palestinians

After 1948 foundation of Israel, many Palestinians had to flee the territory of the newly-formed state in what is called the Palestinian an-Nakba. The displacement of population from the Israeli territory to the nowadays Occupied Palestinian territories and beyond was significant in terms of both absolute and relative numbers. Table 1 presents three estimates on the number of Palestinians living in different regions or countries according to various sources. All three source indicate that most Palestinians live outside the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Table 1. Various estimates on the number of Palestinians living in different regions or countries.

Study Review of “Palestinians Worldwide, A Demographic Study” (2020) Abuhamer 2021 (Abuamer, 2021) Jewish Virtual Library (Jewish Virtual Library, 2021) Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS, 2022)
Period 2015 – 2017 2021 Mid 2022
Palestine /Occ. Palestinian Terr. 4,700,000 4,906,308[1] 5,350,000[2]
Israel 1,427,000 1,957,062 “1948 territory”: 1,700,000
Jordan 634,000 3,240,000
Syria 418,000
Lebanon 340,000
Egypt 30,000 – 100,000
Saudi Arabia 280,000
UAE 350,000
Qatar 56,000
United Kingdom 60,000
United States 310,000
Chile 205,000
Outside Hist. Palestine 5,253,692
Arab countries 6,400,000
Total 13,400,000 14,300,000

The data indicates a continuous rise in global Palestinian population. In addition to the data above, a 2020 study mentions that Türkiye hosted between 25,000 and 30,000 Palestinians except (Palestinian students) (Sinmaz, 2020). The cited review by Abuhamer mentions that in 2015 Jerusalem hosted 339,000 Palestinians, representing 32 % of the population, and 1,058,000 Jews representing 67 % of the population (Abuamer, 2021, p. 108). The same study mentions that the number of Palestinians in Chile, Honduras and Brazil amounted to approximately 700,000. Among these, the Palestinians from Chile began to arrive in the 1850s amid the Crimean War as merchants and they were mostly Christian benefitting from solidarity networks.

The assessments presented above mention statistics on the Palestinian (ethnical) population. However, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) maintains statistics on registered Palestinian refugees, for which it aids. The numbers of refugees presented in UNRWA’s 2022 Annual Operational Report (UNRWA Report, 2023) and UNRWA website statistics as of December 2023, are listed in table 2.

Table 2. Palestinian refugees registered and reported by UNRWA for 2022 or from other UNRWA web statistics in 2023.

Country/Region Numbers of UNRWA registered Palestinian refugees, report for 2022 (UNRWA Report, 2023) Numbers of UNRWA registered Palestinian refugees, statistics in Dec. 2023 (web) (UNRWA Web, 2023)
Gaza Strip 1,553,868 (2022) 1,476,706
West Bank (incl. East Jerusalem) 901,035 (2022) 871,537
Jordan 2,366,050 (2022) 2,307,011
Syria 438,000 (estimation 2022) Registered 575,234 (est. 438,000 still living in Syria)[3]
Lebanon 489,292 (March 2023)

The numbers appear to be consistent with the ones presented for Palestinian populations and the number of registered refugees represent a significant portion of the total Palestinian population for a region or country.

Many Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the neighbouring countries are living in refugee camps for decades. The UNRWA supported camps in these regions are listed in table 3.

Table 3. UNRWA supported camps for Palestinian refugees as of 2023 (UNRWA Web, 2023).

Country/Region Camp number Camp name Registered Palestinian camp population (2023)[4] Camp surface
Gaza Strip 1 Beach Camp 90,713 0.52 km²
2 Bureij Camp 46,629 0.5 km²
3 Deir El-Balah Camp 26,674 0.17 km²
4 Jabalia Camp 116,011 1.4 km²
5 Khan Younis Camp 88,854 1.27 km²
6 Maghazi Camp 33,255 0.6 km²
7 Nuseirat Camp 85,409 0.68 km²
8 Rafah Camp 133,326 1.23 km²

West Bank







9 Aida Camp 7,100 (2022) 0.071 km²
10 Am’ari Camp 15,315 (2022) 0.096 km²
11 Aqbat Jabr Camp 10,306 (2022) 1.67 km²
12 Arroub Camp 15,642 (2022) 0.24 km²
13 Askar Camp 23,760 (2022) 0.119 km²
14 Balata 32,’561 (2022) 0.25 km²
15 Beit Jibrin Camp 3,035 (2022) 0.027 km²
16 Camp No. 1 Camp 9,498 (2022) 0.045 km²
17 Deir ‘Ammar Camp 3,682 (2022) 0.162 km²
18 Dheisheh Camp 18,869 (2022) 0.33 km²
19 Ein El-Sultan Camp 3,374 (2022) 0.87 km²
20 Far’a Camp 10,868 (2022) 0.26 km²
21 Fawwar Camp 12,452 (2022) 0.27 km²
22 Jalazone Camp 16,439 (2022) 0.253 km²
23 Jenin Camp 23,628 (2022) 0.42 km²
24 Kalandia Camp 16,076 (2022) 0.42 km²
25 Nur Shams Camp 13,519 (2022) 0.21 km²
26 Shu’fat Camp 16,329 (2022) 0.2 km²
27 Tulkarm Camp 27,228 (2022) 0.18 km²
Jordan 28 Amman New Camp 61,795 (2023) 0.48 km²
29 Baqa’a Camp 131,630 (2023) 1.4 km²
30 Husn Camp 12,500 (1968) 0.77 km² (1968)
31 Irbid Camp 30,935 (2023) 0.24 km² (1948)
32 Jabal El-Hussein 33,835 (2023) 0.42 km² (1952)
33 Jerash Camp 35,557 (2023) 0.75 km² (1968)
34 Marka Camp 61,869 (2023) 0.92 km²
35 Souf Camp 22,166 (2023) 0.5 km²
36 Talbieh Camp 10,617 (2023) 0.13 km²
37 Zarqa Camp 21,109 (2023) 0.18 km²
Syria 38 Dera’a Camp 627 families returned (2018) 1.3 km²
39 Ein El Tal (unofficial camp) 120 families (end 2020) 0.16 km²
40 Hama Camp 7,000 – 8,000 0.06 km² (1950)
41 Homs Camp 12,000 0.15 km²
42 Jaramana Camp 13,000 (2021) 0.03 km² (1948)
43 Khan Dunoun Camp 13,705 (end 2021) 0.03 km² (1951)
44 Khan Eshieh Camp 16,000 (2022) 0.69 km² (1949)
45 Latakia (unofficial) 9,000 0.22 km² (1956)
46 Neirab Camp 18,000 0.15 km² (1950)
47 Qabr Essit Camp 16,600 (2021) 0.02 km² (1948)
48 Sbeineh Camp 16,000 (2021) + 4’000 around 0.03 km² (1948)
49 Yarmouk (unofficial camp)[5] 2.1 km² (1957)








50 Beddawi Camp Near Tripoli
51 Burj Barajneh Camp > 2,373 assisted Beirut
52 Burj Shemali Camp > 4,121 assisted Near Tyre
53 Dbayeh Camp 4,591 84’300 m²
54 Ein El Hilweh Camp 50,000 Near Saida
55 El Buss Camp > 1,615 assisted Near Tyre
56 Mar Elias Camp > 118 refugees + other Palest. 200 m²
57 Mieh Mieh Camp 6,158 0.063 km²
58 Nahr El-Bared Camp > 4,029 families (2022)
59 Rashidieh Camp > 4,884 assisted
60 Shatila Camp > est. 5,000 residential units Beirut
61 Wavel Camp > 814 assisted Beqaa Valley

It must be mentioned that some of the camps from Lebanon were previously built/utilized by the French troops to host displaced Armenians. As for the Palestinian refugees from Syria, they were subjected to further displacement and had to face armed confrontations near or within their camps after 2011. Following section will briefly present the situation of Palestinians in relevant countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, which host a relatively high number of Palestinians for many decades.

Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon

The most Palestinians living outside the Occupied Palestinian Territories can be found in Jordan. The West Bank was annexed in 1950 by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the 1967 war against Israel, Jordan lost control of the West Bank and in 1988 it dropped sovereignty claims over this territory. The intertwined history of Palestinians and Jordanians has thus long roots. However, as the number of Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin began to grow, the question of ethnical majority began to gain momentum. This development is reflected by the so-called “Jordan is Palestine” idea, and Israeli plans like the Allon Plan, according to which the Jordan Valley should be annexed to Israel and the rest of the West Bank to Jordan, or the Likud Party plan according to which the entire West Bank should be annexed by Israel and Jordan should be declared a Palestinian state (Kuttab, 2021). Despite the relatively good integration of Palestinians in the Jordanian society and even government, Jordanian reactions to these pressures were multiple. While providing Palestinians with Jordanian passports, the Jordanians consistently maintained the right to return of Palestinians. Furthermore, certain Palestinians’ Jordanian citizenship has been withdrawn after 1988 (Wilke, 2010), and even Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, has seen his Jordanian citizenship revoked in 2018 (The New Arab, 2018). As in the case of Egypt, Jordan is taking precaution measures to prevent a possible push of Palestinians outside the Occupied Territories at the expense of their national security on long term. In this context, the 1970 Black September from Jordan, in which the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat challenged the Jordanian monarchy and attempted to overthrow the government, represented a heads up for all neighboring countries that hosted Palestinian refugees.

Neither the Syrians nor the Palestinians conceived the idea that the Palestinians’ settlement in Syria was permanent after 1948. Despite initially being treated similar Syrian citizens, the Palestinians did not receive Syrian citizenship. The Syrian support for the Palestinian cause has experienced difficulties, as some Palestinian groups were acceptable for the Syrian establishment while others not, and the relations are reciprocated by the Palestinian groups. The conflict from Syria has had a major impact on the lives of Palestinians after 2011, who were either victims or had to flee the hostilities. The situation of the Yarmouk Camp amounts to one of the direst humanitarian situations of the Syrian conflict (Minority Rights Group, 2018).

It is worth noting that Lebanon is the country with the highest number of refugees per capita, and probably the country with the highest number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) per capita in the world. The title “Tired Being a Refugee” of Erni’s work may be among the most accurate descriptions of Palestinians’ situation in Lebanon (Erni, 2013). Due to a mix of contexts, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have never received citizenship and their civil rights are very limited. The situation that has not changed in the past six decades determines further concerns among Lebanese, a state with a fragile balance among religious groups and among Palestinians alike, who are in a permanent transitional state.

Discussion and Conclusions

This article has presented and analysed relatively recent data on Palestinians and Palestinian refugees, which are present mostly in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in neighbouring countries Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The analysis has revealed that these three neighbouring countries, are concerned with a possible takeover of their states by Palestinians and maintain strict rules for Palestinian presence on their territories. The concerns were accentuated by events like the 1970 Black September from Jordan, which lead to tensions between Syria and certain Palestinian factions.

Many Palestinians from the Occupied Territories and Jordan, Syria, Lebanon are refugees and live in refugee camps. These long-term suffering has been accentuated for Palestinians from Syria by the ongoing conflict which determined refugees to flee their camps, some of them returning in recent years. The stance of Arab states around Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories is split between a friendly attitude and the consistent conviction of a Palestinian state in Gaza Strip and the West bank. From this perspective, Israeli attempts to find solutions for a Palestinian state in neighbouring countries instead the Occupied Territories, which are called “Disputed Territories” in some Israeli documentary sources, confirm the national security concerns of neighbouring countries.

The number of Palestinians in Europe and the US, as well as in other parts of the world, is relatively small and hardly impacts the overall landscape of Palestinian refugees from the Occupied Territories and Jordan, Syria, or Lebanon. Their tragedy is among the longest and most bitter in modern history despite UNRWA and other efforts to provide alleviation.


Abuamer, M. (2021). Review of Palestinians Worldwide: A Demographic Study, by Y. Courbage & H. Nofal. AlMuntaqa, 4(2),, 108-114.

Erni, F. (2013, January 24). A History of Palestinians in Lebanon – Social Identification among Young Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon. eCahiers de l’Institut | 17 (Graduate Institute Publications), p. DOI : 10.4000/books.iheid.543.

Jewish Virtual Library. (2021). Total Palestinian Population Worldwide (2021). Retrieved from Jewish Virtual Library – A Project of AICE:

Kuttab, D. (2021, November 11). The “Jordan Is Palestine” Idea Resurfaces Again. Retrieved from Arab Center Washington DC:

Minority Rights Group. (2018, March). Palestinians (in Syria). Retrieved from Minority Rights:

PCBS. (2022, July 11). Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) Presents the Conditions of Palestinian Populations on the Occasion of the International Population Day, 11/07/2022. Retrieved from Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS):

Sinmaz, K. (2020). Palestinian Diaspora in Turkey. Retrieved from INSAMER:

The New Arab. (2018, April 26). Jordan to ‘revoke citizenship’ of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, senior PA officials. Retrieved from The New Arab:

UNRWA Report. (2023). Annual Operational Report 2022. Retrieved from UNRWA:

UNRWA Web. (2023, December). UNRWA – Where We Work. Retrieved from united nations relief and works agency for palestine refugees in the near east:

Wilke, C. (2010, February 1). Stateless Again – Palestinian-Origin Jordanians Deprived of their Nationality. Retrieved from Human Rights Watch:


[1] From the total, 2,949,246 lived in the West Bank and 1,957,062 lived in the Gaza Strip. The Jewish Virtual Librars calls the West Bank and Gaza Strip “disputed territories”.

[2] From the total, 3,190,000 lived in the West Bank and 2,170,000 lived in the Gaza Strip.

[3] The difference between 575,234 registered and the estimated 438,000 still living in Syria are considered Palestinians registered in Syria that fled to Lebanon, Jordan or other countries.

[4] Not registered Palestinian refugees are not included in the numbers. Year is 2023 unless otherwise specified.

[5] 160,000 Palestinians were living in Yarmouk before the conflict. The “original population of the camp and its surroundings constituted 1,200,000 residents and the camp had a very good reputation and was considered as the capital of the Palestinian diaspora”. 15 Dec 2023.

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About the author:

Prof. Ecaterina MAŢOI

Prof. Ecaterina MAŢOI is Program Director at MEPEI.

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