Dheisheh

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Dheisheh Camp
Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic مخيم الدهيشه
 • Also spelled ad Duheisha Camp (official)
Dheishe Camp (unofficial)
Dheisheh Camp is located in the Palestinian territories
Dheisheh Camp
Dheisheh Camp
Location of Dheisheh Camp within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°41′38.47″N 35°11′02.96″E / 31.6940194°N 35.1841556°E / 31.6940194; 35.1841556Coordinates: 31°41′38.47″N 35°11′02.96″E / 31.6940194°N 35.1841556°E / 31.6940194; 35.1841556
Governorate Bethlehem
Government
 • Type Refugee Camp (from 1949)
Area (approximate)
 • Jurisdiction 1,000 dunams (1 km2 or 0.4 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Jurisdiction 13,017

Dheisheh Refugee Camp (Arabic: مخيم الدهيشة‎) is a Palestinian refugee camp located just south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Dheisheh was established in 1949 on 0.31 square kilometers of land leased from the Jordanian government.[1] The camp was established as a temporary refuge for 3,400 Palestinians from 45 villages west of Jerusalem and Hebron who fled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Six decades of natural population growth have expanded the camp's dimensions into an area between 1 and 1.5 square kilometers. The exact dimensions are subject to periodic debate between residents, UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority. The latter two are required to provide services to residents, depending on their resident status within the camp.

Although initially living in tents, the residents have since constructed homes. Many streets are now paved, while still remaining very narrow. According to UNRWA, the entire camp is connected to the municipal water and electric systems of Bethlehem, yet 15% of the camp remains unconnected to the local public sewage system. These homes make use of communal percolation pits.[1]

Name[edit]

There are several alternative spellings of Dheisheh, making use of the Latin alphabet. An incomplete list of possible spellings include: "Deheishe", "Deheisheh", "Duheisha", "Dheisha", and "Dhaisha".

While "Dheisheh" is the spelling UNRWA uses,[2] the Palestinian Authority uses "ad Duheisha" in its documentation.[3][4]

There is little consensus among news agencies as to the proper spelling. While Al Jazeera English makes use of the "Dheisheh" spelling, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an has used the alternative spelling "Duheisha.".[5][6]

History[edit]

The people who gathered in Dheisheh originated from more than 45 villages west of Jerusalem and Hebron. Dheisheh is one of the refugee camps that was created as a temporary humanitarian solution to the problem of accommodating those expelled Palestinians. Towards the end of the 1950s the UNRWA started to build very simple living units: A single room of 10 square metres, 10 cm thick and 2.45 m high walls, a steel roof and a floor made of rough concrete. Refugees began to build their own houses so as not to live in the UNRWA's shacks any longer.

Population[edit]

Accurate population figures for Dheisheh are subject to disagreement between the respective census studies of the Palestinian National Authority and UNRWA.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the camp was estimated to have population of 9,399 in mid-year 2006, following natural population growths from 8,829 persons in 2004 and 9,114 persons in 2005.[7] In January 2009, the Population, Housing, and Establishment Census 2007, undertaken by the same Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority, reported the following statistics for the year 2007:[3]

Demographic Type Total
No. of Total Persons 8,736
No. of Females 4,310
No. of Males 4,426
No. of Housing Units 1,905
No. of Buildings 1,170
No. of Household 1,698
Average Size of Household: 5.1

Of note is the absence of approximately 700 persons from the estimated 2006 figure compared to the 2007 reported figure. Also, the 2007 reported figure is less than the initial figured reported by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics for 2004.

UNRWA reported the following statistical figures for Dheisheh, as of 30 June 2008:[8]

Demographic Type Total
No. of Total Persons 13,017
No. of Families 2,838
No. of Infants 129

The discrepancy regarding the camp's population is influenced by several issues, most significant of which are the disagreements over the accepted dimensions of the camp and the status of unregistered residents. Residents of the camp are not taxed on their properties within the camp, and this results in disagreements as the camp community's population and geographical size continue to grow. The tax policy regarding the camp has resulted in the immigration of Palestinians who are not registered refugees with UNRWA. Accurate figures for these immigrants is non available.

Additionally, registration with UNRWA is voluntary and thus can not be expected to account for all eligible refugees living within the camp.

Based on the UNRWA statistics, Dheisheh is the 4th largest refugee camp in the West Bank, behind Balata, Tulkarm, and Askar (in that order). Dheisheh is thus the largest camp outside of UNRWA's Nablus district.

By comparison, Dheisheh camp would be the 6th largest after Balata, Askar, Tulkarm, Jenin, and Qalandiya (in that order), based on the figures reported by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Local organizations[edit]

Entrance to the Karama Organization

There are a number of local as well as international organizations offering humanitarian services within Dheisheh camp. Many of these organizations have a particular focus. A few of them are listed above.

The Karama Organization is a local organization aiming at providing leisure activities for children living in the camp.[9]

The Ibdaa Cultural Center has the aim of creating a positive atmosphere for children in the camp.

The Future Vision Society for the Development of the Abilities (AREEN) is another organization located in Dheishe camp. This non-profit organization seeks to provide a better future for the children and youth in the camp, especially for girls.[10]

Footnotes[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Grossman, D. 1988. ‘A man is like a stalk of wheat’ in The Yellow Wind, Pan Books Limited: Farrar Straus and Giroux

External links[edit]