Who We Are

The Second Intifada

The Second Intifada

September 2000

A wave of protests and violence leads to what will become known as the second intifada; violence continues for several years, with large numbers of deaths and injuries. In response, UNRWA launches an extensive programme of emergency assistance, including mobile health teams, for Palestine refugees affected by the deteriorating economic situation, closures and violence that destroys much of the infrastructure and makes tens of thousands dependent on humanitarian assistance.

psychological counselling and support

psychological counselling and support

2001

UNRWA establishes a unique programme of psychological counselling and support to address the challenges faced by Palestine refugees in the oPt. In 2002, the Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) is established in Gaza to empower vulnerable refugees, especially children. In 2007, UNRWA initiates the annual Gaza Summer Games, in which around 250,000 children participate each year until 2011, breaking several Guinness World Records. Beginning in 2013, the Agency organizes smaller Summer Fun Weeks to continue providing a safe environment in which children can enjoy fun, games and sport.

human rights programme

human rights programme

2002

UNRWA schools integrate human rights into the teaching of Arabic, Islamic studies and social science as part of the Agency’s effort to promote non-violence, healthy communication skills and conflict resolution. In June 2012, the Agency adopts its policy on Education for Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT), based on the OHCHR World Programme for Human Rights Education.  UNRWA also develops and implements the HRCRT Toolkit, a comprehensive guide for teachers to facilitate human rights education.

the West Bank Barrier

the West Bank Barrier

June 2002

After two years of continuing violence on both sides, Israel begins construction of the West Bank Barrier - comprising concrete walls, fences, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads and a buffer zone - along and within the West Bank. In 2004, the International Court of Justice issues an Advisory Opinion noting that its impact on residents of the oPt has included the “destruction or requisition of private property, restrictions on freedom of movement, confiscation of agricultural land, [and]cutting-off of access to primary water sources,” among other consequences. The ICJ concludes that “the construction of the wall and its associated regime are contrary to international law.”

independent national associations

2005

Two independent national associations that work to increase awareness of Palestine refugees and raise funds to support UNRWA are established, in Spain and the United States. A third national association is established in Italy in 2012.

 Infrastructure and Camp Improvement

Infrastructure and Camp Improvement

2005

UNRWA establishes its Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme to address deteriorating living conditions in the Palestine refugee camps. The programme focuses on improving the physical and social environment of the camps through a community-driven planning approach that includes refugees in the planning and design process. Successful pilot projects are later implemented in Neirab camp, in Syria, where UNRWA upgrades sub-standard housing in accordance with resident needs, and in Lebanon, where a community-driven planning approach is taken to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp.

Israel withdraws from Gaza

Israel withdraws from Gaza

August 2005

Israel unilaterally withdraws from the Gaza Strip. In January 2006, elections are held for the Palestinian Legislative Council, and Hamas comes to power. The next several years are marked by increasing tensions and violence, including rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, Israeli attacks on Gaza and the abduction of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit, who will be held captive until 2011.

infant mortality rate

infant mortality rate

2006

UNRWA reduces the average infant mortality rate across its areas of operations to 2.2 per cent, surpassing the World Health Organization (WHO) standard for middle-income countries.

Fighting breaks out in Nahr el-Bared

Fighting breaks out in Nahr el-Bared

20th May 2007

Fighting breaks out in Nahr el-Bared, a Palestine refugee camp near Tripoli, between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Fatah al-Islam, a militant organization; much of the camp is destroyed. UNRWA begins reconstruction work in 2009. With an estimated cost of US$ 345 million, the effort to rebuild Nahr el-Bared is the largest project UNRWA has ever undertaken in any of its five fields. The first refugees begin returning to Nahr el-Bared in 2010.

 land blockade on the Gaza Strip

land blockade on the Gaza Strip

June 2007

Israel imposes a land blockade on the Gaza Strip. In January 2009, a naval blockade is added. In June 2010, Israel announces a package of measures to ease the blockade by lifting some import restrictions and approving a number of projects funded by international agencies, including UNRWA. However, by 2010 broad unemployment has reached 45.2 per cent, one of the highest rates in the world; by 2013, 80 per cent of the population is dependent on international assistance. The blockade’s remaining restrictions present “the core obstacle” to the economic recovery of the area and its residents, of whom 750,000 receive food assistance from UNRWA.

the “most destructive assault”

the “most destructive assault”

27th December 2008

Israel launches a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip, which lasts until 18 January 2009 and is described as the “most destructive assault” in the history of the oPt. A fact-finding mission of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports that 1,387 Palestinians are killed, including 773 who are not taking part in the hostilities; 320 are minors. Nine Israeli soldiers lose their lives in the fighting, four to friendly fire, while four Israeli adults are killed by Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks in southern Israel; three are civilians. Fifty-one UNRWA installations are damaged, including seven health centres and the Agency’s Gaza field office. The UNRWA warehouse in Gaza City is hit several times by Israeli shells, burning to the ground and destroying hundreds of tons of food and medicine. In 2010, Israel pays compensation of US$10.5 million to the United Nations, including for the UNRWA warehouse, which is rebuilt by 2013.

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We provide assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees to help them achieve their full potential in human development.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.

The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.

Establishment

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 2017.

> Read the UN Resolution

Palestine refugees

UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration. 

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.

> More on Palestine refugees

Human Development Goals
The United Nations describes human development in the following terms...
Organizational Structure
UNRWA is one of the largest United Nations programmes, with over 30,...
Advisory Commission
The Advisory Commission was created by UN Resolution 302 (IV) on 8...
In 2007, UNRWA began a comprehensive reform programme to strengthen...
Frequently asked questions
This section deals with general queries about UNRWA. For the Agency’s...

Gaza Emergency Donate Message 2
US$ 40 FEEDS A PERSON TWO DAILY MEALS FOR A WEEK