Palestinians make up the largest number of refugees in the world today – an estimated 6.5 million - about a third of the global refugee population. About 5 million are now registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which runs refugee camps for Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza itself. The descendants of Palestinians are also recognised as refugees as they are denied certain rights. A number of factors have left Palestinians struggling in poverty and reliant on UNRWA and other agencies to provide basic necessities and welfare services.
These include internal politics; the geographical division between the West Bank and Gaza; the Israeli occupation of Gaza, its imposition of economic restrictions and the division of Jerusalem. The wars of 1948 and 1967, plus subsequent conflicts including 2008-9 and 2014, with Israel have repeatedly seen infrastructure and resources severely damaged or destroyed. In the 50-day Gaza conflict of 2014:
- More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed including 1,462 civilians
- Civilian deaths included 495 children, 253 women and 200 elderly
- More than 10,000 Palestinians were injured, including 3,106 children of which a third have been left with a permanent disability
- Nearly 18,000 homes were destroyed or damaged and more than 500,000 people – 28% of Gaza’s population – were displaced.