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With no space to grow, West Bank refugees look upwards

The Jalazon UN-run refugee camp north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, March 24, 2015Nael al-Sharif is working on an extension to his property in the Jalazon refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In many of the Palestinian camps, which have evolved down the decades into densely populated areas teeming with narrow alleyways, families that cannot afford to buy new land simply add floors to existing property. With growing concerns about safety in the ever-expanding camps, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), has banned construction beyond two floors on foundations not designed to support tall buildings. “The camps are considered to be among the densest urban environments in the world, but because camp structures were built for temporary use, over the decades the buildings have become overcrowded, critically substandard and in many cases life-threatening,” UNRWA says.

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