Reuters Crams Gaza Residents into Refugee Camps

Aug. 1 UPDATE (2:45 pm ET):

Reuters Corrects

After the publication of this post earlier today, Reuters commendably corrected the article. See below for a detailed update.

The Gaza Strip is commonly associated with densely populated refugee camps. Reuters' article last week, "Palestinians strive to stop Gaza shore erosion with concrete and rubble," shored up that abiding image, even as it abetted the erosion of the journalistic imperative to adhere to factual accuracy.

Thus, in a blatant factual error, Nidal Al-Mughrabi wrote of the coastal Hamas-run territory: "with a population of 2.3 million Palestinians, most of them live in refugee camps . . . "

In fact, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), less than one-third of the territory's population lives in refugee camps. While UNRWA inexplicably no longer publishes statistics for the populations living in the eight refugee camps in Gaza Strip, that information was on the agency's site until last spring, and can still be retrieved by way of the web archive, Wayback Machine.

Thus, according to UNRWA, the United Nations organization tasked with responsibility for Palestinian refugees in Gaza and everywhere else, there were 593,163 Gazans living in the eight refugee camps, out of a total of 1.9 million Gaza residents at the time (31 percent). The breakdown was Beach refugee camp, which was featured in the Reuters piece (85,628); Bureij (more than 43,330); Deir al-Balah (more than 25,569); Jabalia (nearly 113,990): Khan Younis (87,816); Al-Maghazi (31,329); Nuseirat (more than 80,194) and Rafah (125,304).

Per UNRWA's own data, it's not even true that most of the 1.4 million refugees living in the Gaza Strip live in refugee camps. Of the territory's refugee population, only some 42 percent live in refugee camps, according to UNRWA's own information.

Interestingly, 2017 data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics yields a much lower figure for the number of Gazans residing in refugee camps: 252,841 (culled from pages 81-82) out of a total 1,899,291 residents of the Gaza Strip (page 81). In other words, according to the PCBS' 2017 data, just over 13 percent of Gaza residents lived in refugee camps. 

The Washington Post previously corrected a similar error. 

CAMERA is in communication with Reuters about this error. Stay tuned for any developments.

Aug. 1 Update (2:45 pm ET):  Reuters Corrects

After the publication of this post earlier today, Reuters amended the article to accurately cite Gaza Strip's

population of 2.3 million Palestinians, around a quarter of whom live in refugee camps, according to U.N. figures.

In addition, a correction appended to the top of the article states:  

(This July 27 story corrects paragraph 7 to show a quarter of Gaza population lives in refugee camps)

We commend Reuters for setting the record straight.