Some Sociological and Economic Aspects of Refugee Camps on the West Bank

by Yoram Ben-Porath, E. Marx

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Refugee camps are the most glaring and obvious evidence of the refugee problem in the Middle East. This report makes comparisons between the camp refugees and the noncamp population near Jalazon, Jordan, and records observations that may be applied to the camps on the West Bank in general. Camps are generally situated near places of employment. The camps seem to attract the poor and less educated, the less mobile among the refugee population. Camp residents are provided with free housing, sanitation services, and water; they are tax-exempt. The camp policy is consistent with refugee welfare in one sense: it caters to the desire to be with other refugees who are also welfare recipients and tends to foster refugee identity. The cohesiveness of refugee identity and society is probably based on exaggerated expectations of benefits and exaggerated fears of independent life.

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