The relief and social services (RSS) programme provides a range of direct and indirect social protection services in the Agency’s five fields of operation.
The department focuses on three main goals:
- Providing impoverished Palestine refugees with social safety net assistance on a quarterly basis.
- Promoting the development and self-reliance of less-advantaged members of the refugee community, especially women, children, young people, people with disabilities and the elderly.
- Maintaining, updating and preserving the records and documents of registered Palestine refugees, in order to determine eligibility for UNRWA services.
UNRWA’s relief services programme works to alleviate poverty among Palestine refugee families, with a priority on the poorest of the poor, the “abject poor”. The programme provides a social safety-net assistance that includes basic food support, cash subsidies and additional family income supplement (FIS) to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees caught in the cycle of abject poverty. It also provides selective cash assistance, one-off cash grants for basic household needs or in family emergencies.
The programme also provides direct aid during emergencies caused by violence and political unrest, along with shelter rehabilitation in coordination with the department of infrastructure and camp improvement.
Read more about the social safety-net
UNRWA’s social services programme addresses some of the most pressing socio-economic needs of the Palestine refugee community. It promotes community-based action that enables particularly vulnerable refugees to become more self-reliant.
The programme is committed to developing the institutional capacity of more than 100 community-based organisations (CBOs) that organise a wide range of social, cultural and recreational activities, as well as skills training and rehabilitation services.
To systematically fulfill this commitment, UNRWA developed the capacity assessment tool, which was piloted in one in five CBOs. The tool contributes to building the governance, management and leadership, programmes and services and financial management of the CBOs, as well as assessing they make each year.
The programme particularly addresses the needs of women, refugees with disabilities, young people and the elderly. It also helps vulnerable refugees through its micro-credit programme, which is managed by community-based organisations.
Eligibility and registration
The eligibility and registration programme protects and safeguards the records and documents of Palestine refugees. It maintains and updates refugee records, using an up-to-date, web-based integrated refugee registration information system (RRIS) in order to determine eligibility for UNRWA services.
These records also support UNRWA’s programmes, including education and health, by verifying the registration and eligibility status of refugees who apply for services, thus enhancing collection and analysis of statistical data for planning purposes.
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Over the years, the RSS programme has had to overcome numerous obstacles, but its recent achievements include:
- Providing quarterly food and cash subsidies for almost 275,000 disadvantaged refugees in 2010.
- Piloting the social safety-net programme in one area in Jordan during November 2010.
- Over 58,100 refugee women benefit each year from the Agency’s work strengthening their role and participation in the community.
- Helping more than 20,000 refugees with disabilities annually receiving direct rehabilitation services, with more than 80,000 services provided.
- Providing, through community-based organisations, education and recreation activities for more than 99,500 children and young people, consistent with the objectives of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
- Providing US$ 1.4 million in loans to help more than 8,000 vulnerable refugees build their household assets. More than 70 per cent of beneficiaries are women, through 33 community managed funds.
- Rolling out a new, multi-million dollar, web-based refugee registration information system (RRIS) in the five fields.
- Issuing a new generation of family registration cards in both Arabic and English
- Digitally scanning and preserving more than 17.5 million documents including birth certificates, property deeds and residence documents dating back to pre-1948 British mandate Palestine.
Relief and social services at a glance
- 293,718 special hardship cases
- 5.7 per cent of registered refugees are special hardship cases
- 49 women’s programme centres
- 35 community rehabilitation centres
- 699 staff
Figures correct at 1 January 2012