Refugee Camps in Gaza: Between Upgrading and Urbicide

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This article examines the urban development of camps under humanitarian mandates in the context of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched its Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (ICIP) in 2007, with several pilot projects carried out to test this new approach. Using Gaza’s Deir El-Balah refugee camp as a case study, this article explores the contradictions inherent to development under humanitarianism and what Ilana Feldman has called “punctuations” in a chronic context of siege and infrastructure violence. That context, the article argues, perpetually sets the refugee communities back, eroding whatever capacities they were able to build up through their own collective efforts and through the aid of which they have been recipients for decades. Compounded by UNRWA’s perpetual funding shortage, the limits of development under the humanitarian umbrella within the context of a technocratic apolitical mandate become even more apparent.




Tayeh, N. (2022). Refugee Camps in Gaza: Between Upgrading and Urbicide. Journal of Palestine Studies, 51(3), 3–22.

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