Shu’fat camp was established in 1965, more than a decade after all the other official camps in the West Bank, on 0.2 square kilometres just north of Jerusalem.
Shu’fat was established after the Mascar camp in Jerusalem’s Old City was closed because of its unsanitary conditions.
Residents in the Mascar camp who were relocated to Shu’fat originally came from 55 villages in the Jerusalem, Lydd, Jaffa and Ramleh areas. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.
Shu'fat is the only West Bank camp that lies within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. As such, its refugees are entitled to Jerusalem identity cards, guaranteeing them residency rights in Jerusalem and making them eligible for certain Israeli social services, including healthcare.
Since their movement is not restricted, Jerusalem identity card holders have not been affected by Israeli closures of the West Bank. Many refugees who had previously moved out of the camp are now returning in an attempt to retain their Jerusalem identity cards.
While UNRWA's official number of registered refugees in the camp stands at almost 11,000, the numbers are likely to be above 18,000. An estimated 4,000 refugees moved into the camp in the past several years to avoid losing Jerusalem residency rights. Seventy per cent of the camp’s residents work in the Israeli private sector.
All shelters are connected to public water and electricity infrastructure, though not all are connected to the public sewerage system. Overcrowding is a major problem. UNRWA's technical and safety building regulations have been ignored. Increasing numbers of refugees construct three- or four-storey shelters on foundations that originally were constructed to hold one- or two-storey structures.
- Almost 11,000 refugees
- Four schools, including two private
- One UNRWA health centre, five others
- One physiotherapy centre
- One community-based rehabilitation centre
- One women’s programme centre
- Demographic profile:
Programmes in the camp
- Insufficient sewage network
- Overburdened infrastructure