Gaza camp, Jordan – In the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip flocked to northern Jordan, finding refuge amid the mountains of Jerash.
Jerash camp, known locally as Gaza camp, originally housed 11,500 refugees. But while most Palestinian refugees in the country were naturalised decades ago when Jordan annexed the West Bank, ex-Gazans were never granted citizenship, as Gaza was administered by Egypt when they fled; instead, they received temporary Jordanian passports that must be renewed biennially.
Since then, the population of Gaza camp has risen to more than 27,000, confirmed UNRWA, the United Nations refugee agency.
“Although some concessions are made for ex-Gazans, they are broadly treated by Jordan as Arab foreigners and pay taxes whenever they interact with the state,” UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness told Al Jazeera. “In terms of employment, this results in a number of restrictions on the professions and employment opportunities available to ex-Gazans.”
The situation has taken a toll on Gazan refugees, who have also lost their residency rights in Gaza and hence cannot return home. Camp residents complain of high unemployment among skilled youth, and say they are frustrated by restrictions that prevent them from owning land or starting independent businesses outside of the camp.
“The hugest challenge is that we have no civil rights,” said Mohammed Saleh Abu Atielh, who operates a small store within the camp selling electronic components for buildings. “We are considered as guests in this country.”