Ein El Hillweh is the most populated of all the refugee camps in Lebanon. It is located 3 Km to the South East of Saida city, and 45 km from Beirut.
The camp was originally established by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1949, with tents being provided for Palestinian refugees who came from Northern Palestine, namely villages in the Galilee region. Its population was approximately 18,000 at that time. UNRWA began its services in this camp in 1952. Gradually tents were replaced by concrete and zinc roofed shelters. The population of this camp is approximately 70,000 inhabitants at present, among which 45,337 are registered by UNRWA. The camp's area is 1.5 square km giving it the highest population density of all the camps.
UNRWA runs ten schools inside Ein El Hillweh, nine of which are for elementary and intermediate levels and just one for secondary level. Similar to other camps, the education standard is low owing to many factors, mainly the need to seriously reform the education system as well as hardships created by the socio-economic and political situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Pre-school education is the responsibility of the NGOs who run various kindergartens and vocational schools.
II. Medical Services:
Besides UNRWA, PRCS is the second biggest health provider, while some NGOs provide limited health services. In addition, some medical specialists base private clinics inside the camp. The overall health situation is far below an acceptable standard and it is a real dilemma for the people, primarily those afflicted with chronic illnesses.
III. Housing Conditions:
Housing shortages are acute and cannot be solved due to the small area of the camp and its high population density. This obliges the residents to expand vertically or horizontally squeezing houses together with very small, dark, damp rooms. The stress this places on the weak infrastructure needs to be addressed through a complete repair or reconstruction of the internal roads, sewage and water networks, and electricity.
IV. Socio-Economic Conditions:
Like other camps, Ein El Hillweh suffers from dire socio-economic problems that are more evident in this camp due to its larger population. Most people work in the agriculture sector, or on the construction sites as daily wage laborers; some have their own small businesses inside the camp such as small shops for various trades and services. However, the unemployment rate is very high, a reality that causes diverse social problems, and prompting the majority of the youth to immigrate to other countries at the slightest opportunity.
Beit Atfal Assumoud Center:
Ein EL Hillweh camp has been subjected to continuous Israeli attacks and internal armed conflicts, which has resulted in the destruction of numerous houses, and the killing or kidnapping of many people. Consequently, there was an urgent need for Beit Atfal Assumoud to establish a social/cultural center in the camp that could assist and support the children and families who lost their primary income providers. In addition to financial need, children and youth required support on all levels, primarily a space to house cultural and recreational activities.
In 1985, a small center was built inside the camp, but with the increasing need and higher number of beneficiaries, it was important to seek the construction of a larger center. This goal was realized in 1998 through the support of the following organizations: • Fluchtling in Lebanon (Germany) • Norwegian People’s Aid • Roger Haus foundation (Switzerland) • The Welfare Association.
Projects and Programs
• Family Happiness Project (Sponsorship)
• A dental clinic
• Remedial classes for students and classes for school drop-outs.
• Palestinian embroidery project.
• Art, Cultural and Recreational activities
• Lectures, social and recreational activities for mothers.