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The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”

The majority of Palestinian refugees continue to reside in either the occupied Palestinian territory or surrounding countries. Of the refugees registered with UNRWA over 40% (approximately two million) live in Jordan. More than one million (23%) UNRWA registered refugees live in Gaza, nearly 760,000 (16%) live in the West Bank, 462,000 live in Syria[1], and approximately 420,000 live in Lebanon.[xiii]  Refugees not registered with UNRWA live in countries around the world, with some of the largest refugee populations located in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Gulf Countries, Chile, and the United States. 

The rights granted to Palestinian refugees vary from country to country. Palestinian refugees who are not registered with UNRWA generally hold citizenship, immigrant, or temporary resident status in the countries where they are located. Their legal status is usually consistent with other people holding their same legal status in the country where they reside. The status of UNRWA refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria is more complicated. 

In Jordan nearly 95% of all Palestinian refugees have been given citizenship and are able to participate in Jordanian political and economic life. Most registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan (over 80%) also do not live in the ten UNRWA run camps located in Jordan.   

On the other hand, most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live inside UNRWA run camps and their rights are severely restricted by the Lebanese government. They have not been granted Lebanese citizenship and are instead considered foreigners. They have almost no political rights and are denied many social rights including access to government run public services such as education, healthcare, and social security. UNRWA is the primary provider of these services to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are also blocked from obtaining employment in many professions.