United Nations Relief and Works Agency
Following the 1948
Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was established by United Nations General Assembly
resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works
programs for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.
establishment, the Agency has delivered its services in times of relative calm
in the Middle East, and in times of hostilities. It has fed, housed and
clothed tens of thousands of fleeing refugees and at the same time educated and
given health care to hundreds of thousands of young refugees.
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
organization, the Agency has gradually adjusted its programs to meet the
changing needs of the refugees.
is a relief and human development agency, providing education, healthcare,
social services and emergency aid to over 4,3 million
refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Over 500.000 children are enrolled in UNRWA schools in these five
areas of operations.
UNRWA is by
far the largest UN operation in the Middle East, with over 27.000 staff,
almost all of them refugees themselves, working directly to benefit their communities
- as teachers, doctors, nurses or social workers.
To qualify for UNRWA registration, refugees must have
been resident in Palestine between
June 1946 and May 1948 and to have lost both their homes and their livelihood
as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The descendants of 1948 refugees are
also eligible for registration with UNRWA, but only refugees living in its five
fields of operations (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza Strip) are
eligible for the Agency's services. The number of registered refugees has grown
from 914.000 in 1950 to over 4,2 million in 2005.
third of the refugees live in one of the 59 recognized camps scattered across
the Middle East. The other
two-thirds live in the cities, towns and villages of the host countries, many
in close proximity to the camps. UNRWA provides services to refugees regardless
of whether they live in camps or not.
The camps are plots of land assigned to
the refugees by the host authorities. They are not administered or controlled
by UNRWA, the Agency simply provides services to those who live in the camps,
but administration, law and order and security in the camps is the
responsibility of the authorities wherever they are located. The camps started
life as tent cities but have developed into crowded urban ghettos, some of
which suffer from poor sanitation, dire levels of poverty and very high
population densities. Most of UNRWA’s schools and
clinics are located near or in the camps.
education, health, relief and social services to eligible refugees among the 4,3 million registered Palestine refugees
in its five fields of operations: Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. Some 1.3 million refugees, around one
third of the total, live in 59 recognized camps, and UNRWA's
services are located in or near these camps where there are large
concentrations of refugees.
Unlike other United Nations
organizations, which 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 some 24.215 staff throughout
its area of operations. Because UNRWA services such as education and health
care 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
website of UNRWA.
UNRWA in Wikipedia.
Belgium 26 April 1965
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last revised: 23 November 2008