Press Releases

Preliminary Results of Statistical Survey

BADIL Alternative Information Center 
For Immediate Release 
15 January 1998 

Campaign for the Defense of Refugee Rights Releases

Union of Youth Activity Centers/West Bank - BADIL Resource Center/Project for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights - A-Quds Open University/Refugee Studies Center


A Survey of Refugee Living Conditions and Expectations 

Statistical surveys of refugee attitudes have become a fashion.  They are conducted inside and outside Palestine, frequently under the sponsorship of international organizations apparently hoping to discover that Palestinian refugees, after 50 years of exile, have "finally come to their senses," and are now ready to bury their dream of return to Palestine in exchange for improvements of living conditions (compensation, better housing, etc.).  This survey, undertaken upon the request of the Union of Youth Activity Centres, serves as a tool in the hands of refugees to compare and judge the findings of the numerous other surveys based on their own, scientifically founded results. 


The survey was conducted under the supervision of the al-Quds University/Refugee Studies Center, the data collection by (refugee) students of the University in the refugee camps was facilitated by the Union of Youth Activity Centres.  The number of questionnaires to be filled was originally set at 2,500.  For financial reasons this number was reduced to 1,200 in mid-1997, and refugees living outside the refugee camps were consequently excluded from the survey.  Data analysis and a preliminary report of the survey were completed in December 1997.  The findings are representative of the refugee population living in the 19 West Bank refugee camps recognized by UNRWA and in five not officially recognized refugee communities. 

The questionnaire used in this survey was composed of four sections: demographic composition of refugee families, public services, housing and living conditions, expectations from the peace process.  The preliminary results presented here pertain to section four.  A detailed final report including all major results will be made available by the Campaign in the future. 

Major Results 

Asked about positive changes in the West Bank refugee camps since the take-over by the Palestinian Authority (1995/6), refugees mentioned: 
Improvement of public services 66.3% 
No changes    29.9% 
More personal security  3.3% 
No answer    0.5% 

Asked about the negative developments in the same period, refugees mentioned: 
No opinion    49.2% 
Decreasing level of public services 21.9% 
Population increase and  
unemployment   20.5% 
Increase in crime and negative  
social behaviours   14.6% 
No answer     0.2% 

A just solution of the refugee problem is perceived by refugees as meaning: 
Return     74.9% 
Compensation    15.6% 
Return and compensation   6.0% 
No opinion     3.3% 
No answer          0.2% 

Asked whether they are satisfied by the way the refugee issue is being handled politically, refugees answered: 
No, not satisfied   83.0% 
Yes, satisfied    5.4% 
Other answers    2.2% 
No answer    9.4% 

The following reasons were given for the lack of satisfaction with the way the refugee issue is being handled in the peace process: 
No immediate progress or  
perspective of future progress  58.8% 
No definite results until now  32.2% 
No answer    9.0% 

Asked what they expect from the peace talks, refugees answered: 
Nothing on the refugee issue  59.2% 
Improvement and restitution  
of rights    20.2% 
No opinion    8.6% 
Things will get worse   5.5% 
No answer    6.8% 

Asked about their most likely reaction should their expectations not be met, refugees responded: 
Opposition and condemnation 44.4% 
Indifference    24.3% 
Acceptance    24.0% 
No answer    7.3% 



Request for further details and comments should be addressed to: 
Project for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights 
BADIL Alternative Information Center 
tel/fax (2) 747346; PO Box 728 Bethlehem; email: