Rehabilitating al- Nairab and `Ayn al-Tal


The Syrian authorities and UNRWA had coincided to make the rehabilitation of al-Nairab camp a high priority. The project started to be implemented after serious objection on the part of the refugees” community, which considered it as one means for settlement (a term symbolic of the renunciation of their full rights, which the State of Israel is obligated to fulfill).

The project aims at rehabilitation of al-Nairab camp in Halab Governorate and at improving the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees in both al-Nairab and `Ayn al-Tal Camps. In its first stage, it was to build 300 housing units in `Ayn al-Tal camp to house 300 families, comprising 1,500 refugees who moved voluntarily from al-Nairab Camp to lessen the population density there. In al-Nairab Camp, the project sought to provide an additional 1,000 housing units. Moreover, it sought to improve the infrastructure, including the sanitation network, the drinking water network, transportation and the public utilities.

This is coupled with improving the infrastructure of `Ayn al-Tal Camp and attaining sustainable development of the socioeconomic conditions of the Palestinian refugees through participation of all sectors of the society. The project was designed to enhance the marginalized social groups through training and participation. In its second stage, the project improved the living conditions of 1,000 families, which numbered 7,500 Palestinian refugees still living in the barracks, and improved the socioeconomic levels of the residents and the region. The financial cost of the project is estimated at $25 million.

Social, Economic and Urban Conditions before the Initiative

Fifty-six years after the establishment of al-Nairab Camp as a consequence of the establishment of the State of Israel, 6,000 Palestinian refugees still live in Allied military barracks built during the Second World War. They live under intolerable conditions that fail to meet the inhabitants’ social, economic or cultural needs and rights. Problems arise especially from the high population density; the absence of the appropriate housing conditions, including inhabitability in both winter and summer, leaky zinc roofing and inadequate drainage and sanitation. UNRWA considers 10 % of al-Nairab families as hardship cases, enduring extremely harsh economic, social and material conditions.

Al-Nairab Camp, like the rest of Palestinian society, is a young population. The working-age population stands at 18,439 (60%), but this largely potential labor force lacks sufficient education remains limited to handicrafts trades in the City of Halab.

The main problems that the project seeks to resolve are the following:

  • The squalid housing and living conditions;
  • High population density at 89/ 1000 m2;
  • Deterioration of drinking water and sanitation networks below any human standard;
  • Poor public facilities and transportation routes.

Despite the many challenges, the project managed to improve living conditions and build capacities of refugees in both al-Nairab and `Ayn al-Tal Camps through the effective participation of refugees, transfer of skills and exchange of expertise. Therefore, the effort led to positive material and social outcomes.

coordinating and combining efforts and ensuring the participation of all sectors of the local community in identifying the needs, planning and implementation. This has spread a new development culture that takes into consideration the available potentials of the social groups. Experiences in different fields should be exchanged as a means of developing social capital.

The project has developed mechanisms of collective work, consultation and sustainable-development planning and human resources development. Moreover, it has built experience at fostering and managing the participation of marginalized groups in the decision making at all stages of planning and implementation.

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