In 1947-8, 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homes at the hands of militias during the creation of the state of Israel. Hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were emptied of their populations and destroyed. This tragedy is known as the ‘Nakba’ by Palestinians, and heralded decades of displacement, conflict, and persecution.

The Nakba is still lived by Palestinian refugee families displaced for more than 73 years, many of whom live in refugee camps across the region, including in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

During the July war of 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, and annexed East Jerusalem. For more than 54 years, Israel’s military occupation has impacted every aspect of daily life for Palestinians: restricting movement, imposing discriminatory control, and threatening homes and livelihoods. Palestinians in Gaza have also lived under 14 years of stifling blockade, collective punishment and repeated military assault.

In every healthcare system it is essential that care is effective and accessible to the population it serves. But for Palestinians living under occupation or as refugees, this access is often denied by the circumstances in which they live, and the restrictions on their underlying civil and political rights.

Where we work

MAP works across the West Bank and Gaza, and in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

We also undertake advocacy and campaigning in the UK and internationally, seeking to raise Palestinian voices at the highest levels and address the key barriers to health and dignity for Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees.

Occupied Palestinian territory

Over half a century of Israel’s military occupation remains a major obstacle to the availability, accessibility and quality of healthcare for Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Restricted freedom of movement due to checkpoints, the separation wall, a constrictive regime of permits, and the blockade and closure of Gaza means that patients across the oPt often struggle to get the treatment and care they need. The movement of medical professionals seeking to train and improve their skills, and vital medical equipment deemed a risk to Israel’s security, are often also restricted by the occupation.

Living under occupation brings direct risks to health and life for the 4.8 million residents of the oPt, including violent attacks from illegal Israeli settlers, death and injuries at protests, and the frequent destruction of homes and infrastructure. This constant insecurity, and the protracted nature of the crisis, threatens to deplete the resilience of communities.

The United Nations (UN) has identified more than 1.45 million Palestinians across the oPt requiring health-related humanitarian assistance in 2021, two-thirds of them in Gaza and one third in the West Bank.

As an occupying power, Israel is responsible for ensuring access to healthcare for Palestinians. However, after more than 54 years of occupation, the Palestinian health system remains under-funded and aid-dependent. Israel’s policy of separation between East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza is a key barrier to the creation of a unified, effective system of healthcare for Palestinians.

MAP’s teams work to develop sustainable, Palestinian-led healthcare services to meet these needs. With programmes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, we are able to respond and work effectively across the territory despite movement and access restrictions.

Working in partnership with local health providers, we aim to ensure equitable access to essential health services for all Palestinians, particularly those who are most marginalised, such as children, women, and those with disabilities and mental health issues.

Case study:

Mobile clinic supporting West Bank communities

Read how MAP's mobile clinic is providing essential primary health care services to marginalised communities in the southern West Bank.

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Approximately 100,000 of the Palestinians who were expelled from or fled their homes during the Nakba in 1947-8 sought refuge in Lebanon, mostly coming from Galilee and the coastal cities of Jaffa, Haifa and Acre. They settled in refugee camps across the country, which were quickly recognised and organised by the UN. Since then, most Palestinians have not been granted Lebanese citizenship, instead remaining stateless. They have also been denied access to state support, relying on relief services from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) since it began operations in 1950.

The 15-year Lebanese civil war, which erupted in 1975, had devastating consequences for Palestinians, among others. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, and in September the massacre at Sabra and Shatila camps took place, in response to which MAP was founded. After the civil war ended in 1990, Palestinians became more marginalised than ever, with the combination of discrimination inside Lebanon and perpetual displacement from their homeland making them highly vulnerable.

Today, the population of approximately 270,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are banned from working in more than 30 professions, owning property, or accessing vital social services. Conditions in the camps have serious repercussions for the residents’ mental and physical health, but their access to healthcare is limited.

The lack of basic civil rights has had devastating humanitarian consequences for Palestinians in Lebanon, with high unemployment and poverty. This has left Palestinians in Lebanon reliant on UNRWA and severely impacted by the under-funding of its services.

MAP responds to the immediate needs of those who have been displaced, whilst working towards sustainable long-term health development, by building on the resources of the Palestinian community, starting from its civil society.

270,000Palestinian refugees in Lebanon mostly live in 12 camps and informal gatherings

Approximately28,386Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria are living in Lebanon


Midwives supporting women's and children's health

Read how MAP’s midwives are providing mothers with breastfeeding advice, and other health and parental support in Lebanon.

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Recognising that violations of international law and political policies are key barriers to Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity, MAP advocates and campaigns in the UK and internationally for these to be addressed.

Working with international and local partners, we seek to ensure Palestinian voices are heard, and speak out against the injustices Palestinians face on a daily basis. MAP advocates human rights-based policies that will contribute to the health and wellbeing of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees.

MAP raises issues of concern through briefings with the British government, UK opposition parties, and other international policymakers. In cooperation with the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu), MAP supports delegations of British parliamentarians to travel to the oPt to see for themselves the situation faced by Palestinians. On return, many MPs have been keen to speak out about the conditions and have called on the UK Government to act to end policies that are harmful to Palestinian health and dignity.

MAP also engages regularly with the bodies and mechanisms of the UN, supporting our partners and the communities we work with to have their voices heard at the highest levels. We produce rigorous reports and policy analysis, often in cooperation with other international aid agencies and local partners, to challenge policies and practices that impact the health of Palestinians.

Read MAP's latest reports, briefings and factsheets here.

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