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March 01, 2002
Balata Refugee Camp – Fact Sheet



The Refugee Camp of Balata was raided by hundreds of Israeli soldiers and was shelled from air by Apache Helicopters on Thursday, February 28th. The invasion so far has claimed the lives of 13 Palestinians and the wounding of over 180, 60 of them are described as being in critical condition. A large number of the wounded are children. Here is some further information about Balata Refugee Camp.

Balata Refugee Camp was established in 1948, after the invasion of Palestine. Balata Refugee Camp is located near Nablus, in the Northern part of the West Bank. The camp is 2.5 kilometers square. Of the 4.5million Palestinian refugees spread throughout the globe today, approximately 20,000 of these registered refugees inhabit the camp of Balata, making it the largest refugee camp in the West Bank.

In Arabic, the word \"Balata\" means \"Rock\", and is an appropriate name for this community. While the people of Balata have been struck with severe poverty and suffer cruel oppression, they have been a great example of strength and resistance for all Palestinians. Balata’s community has suffered hundreds upon hundreds of casualties as a result of frequent incursions and raids of Israeli soldiers throughout the years.

Although Balata may simply look like an extension of the city of Nablus, the conditions within Balata are quite different from those outside of the camp. One of the primary differences is, that as the population grows, there is not room for demographic expansion, which leads to the issue of severe overpopulation, a problem from which all Palestinian refugee camps suffer.

In its earlier years, Balata was an enormous tent city. But as years passed, and the refugee problem experienced no resolve, permanent structures began taking root. Permanent structures now stand where tents once stood.

Yet although there are some paved roads and permanent structures within Balata, the camp still faces many problems. Heatlhcare, education, and many other public and human services are dangerously lacking. Schools suffer overcrowding and medical facilities lack the basic necessities to treat patients. Since the outbreak of the current Palestinian uprising, the level of unemployment, which was dangerously low has plummeted even higher; the poverty level stands at its worst rates yet.

Because this is the reality in which millions of Palestinian refugees live today, for the inhabitants of Balata, the question of the refugees right of return, and therefore their future status is crucial.

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