Emergency Appeals


Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is critical and deteriorated sharply in 2020. It is causing deep insecurity amongst Palestine refugees across Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The UNRWA Emergency Appeal lays out the responses required in 2021 to mitigate the impact of the crisis on this vulnerable community.

In Gaza, Palestine refugees are struggling with high levels of poverty, food insecurity and joblessness, as the illegal blockade entered its fourteenth year in 2020. Economic indicators reflect the severity of the protracted crisis, aggravated by COVID-19 and the accompanying lockdowns and curfews. The unemployment rate stood at 49 per cent in the third quarter of 2020. The crisis has eroded coping mechanisms and the living conditions of Palestine refugees who remain highly dependent on the humanitarian assistance provided by UNRWA to meet basic needs. The volatile security situation, compounded by political instability, the chronic electricity crisis and lack of access to clean water deepen the extreme hardship that Gaza’s people endure. The situation is taking a heavy toll on the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of individuals and communities, with women and children at particular risk. 

In the West Bank, Palestine refugees are an especially vulnerable group, with higher than average rates of unemployment and poverty. They are subjected to a range of protection threats arising from the Israeli occupation. In 2020, Israeli Security Forces (ISF) mounted operations regularly, often in refugee camps, resulting in injuries and at times deaths. Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has also continued. In the first nine months of 2020, UNRWA registered a worrisome increase in the number of demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures, as well as in the displacement of Palestinian families, with refugees disproportionately affected. Restrictions on freedom of movement, expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and widespread exposure of children to violence and the risk of detention by Israeli authorities also continued. Protection threats, as well as socio-economic hardship, have increased significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, UNRWA requires US$ 231 million to address the priority humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in Gaza and the West Bank.


Protracted displacement, deteriorating socio-economic conditions aggravated by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, dire humanitarian needs and protection concerns continue to affect the lives of Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. 

In Syria, the protracted conflict has devastated human security and left 91 per cent of the 438,0001 Palestine refugees estimated to remain in the country in absolute poverty2 and 40 per cent displaced. In 2020, living conditions deteriorated further as a result of an economic crisis, leading to an increase in prices including of the most basic commodities.  

In Lebanon and Jordan, Palestine refugees, including Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS), are also confronted with increased hardship and vulnerability, due to long-term displacement and difficult socio-economic conditions, coupled with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Lebanon, the economic and political crisis, which started in October 2019, continues to cause rising inflation, price increases and loss of employment opportunities, pushing more people into poverty.

In 2021, UNRWA requires US$ 318 million to respond to the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.