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FACTBOX-Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon

(Reuters) - “Battalion 5”, a group of mostly Palestinian rappers, sings about the miserable conditions of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Here are some facts about the camps:

* HOW DID THEY GET THERE?

-- The creation of Israel in 1948 prompted an exodus of Palestinians from their homes. Their descendants make up the bulk of the 4.3 million refugees cared for by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), many in slum-like camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

* HOW MANY ARE THERE?

-- Palestinian refugees make up an estimated 10 percent of Lebanon’s population. More than half the 400,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in 12 camps across the country. The Lebanese army this year fought Islamist militants based in the Nahr al-Bared camp, home to about 40,000 refugees. About 35,000 refugees are still displaced from the fighting.

* WHAT IS IT LIKE?

-- Despite a fourfold increase in the refugee population, the land area allocated to the camps has barely changed, making conditions overcrowded, squalid and often unsanitary. Residents have been forbidden by law from bringing building materials into some camps, making it difficult to repair or expand their homes using proper materials.

-- Restrictions on Palestinians in Lebanon were designed to deter them from settling permanently as the country feared the presence of mainly Sunni Muslim refugees would upset its delicate internal sectarian balance.

-- Amnesty International recently released a report urging the Lebanese government to alleviate conditions for those refugees who are treated like “second-class citizens”. The report urged Lebanon to make it easier for refugees to find employment. Refugees were barred from about 70 job categories until 2005, when the Labour Ministry cut the number to 20. Its decision has not been passed into law.

Sources: Reuters, Amnesty International

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