UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East.
The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.
In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2014.
Since its establishment, the Agency has delivered its services both in times of relative calm in the Middle East, and in times of hostilities.
UNRWA’s work exemplifies an international commitment to the human development of Palestine refugees, helping them:
- acquire knowledge and skills
- lead long and healthy lives
- achieve decent standards of living
- enjoy human rights to the fullest possible extent.
UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees, and its contributions to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees. Originally envisaged as a temporary organisation, the Agency has gradually adjusted its programmes to meet the changing needs of the refugees.
Where does UNRWA work?
UNRWA provides education, health, relief and social services to eligible refugees among the 5 million registered Palestine refugees in its five fields of operation:
- Gaza Strip
- the Syrian Arab Republic
- the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
More than 1.4 million refugees, around one third of the total, live in 58 recognised camps, and UNRWA's services are located in or near these areas.
Unlike other United Nations organisations that work through local authorities or executing agencies, UNRWA provides its services directly to Palestine refugees. It plans and carries out its own activities and projects, and builds and administers facilities such as schools and clinics.
The Agency currently operates or sponsors over 900 installations with nearly 30,000 staff across the five fields. Because UNRWA services such as education and healthcare are the type of services normally provided within the public sector, the Agency cooperates closely with governmental authorities in the area of operations, who also provide some services to Palestine refugees.
More about our programmes
More about Palestine refugees
Frequently asked questions about UNRWA’s operations and mandate