Emergency Appeals


Across the occupied Palestinian territory, Palestine refugees continue to suffer the impacts of Israeli occupation, high levels of violence and repeated violations of human rights. In Gaza, a land, sea and air blockade has entered its 13th year; the rates of joblessness remain the highest in the world, and large proportions of the population languish in poverty and food insecurity, dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs.

The situation is compounded by recurrent incidents of violence and cycles of conflict, political instability, chronic electricity outages, extremely poor quality water and very high unemployment rates. Although levels of violence and casualties arising from the Great March of Return demonstrations, which started in 2018, have decreased, caring for the injured continue to put additional pressure on an already overstretched health system.

In 2020, one million food insecure Palestine refugees in Gaza will rely on UNRWA food assistance to meet their basic needs, a tenfold increase on the 100,000 that required such support in 2000.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Palestine refugees experience humanitarian and protection challenges rooted in occupation-related policies and practices, such as punitive demolitions, forced displacement and restrictions on access to land markets and basic services.. Security operations conducted by the Israeli security forces often involve the deployment of live ammunition and tear gas, resulting in casualties, serious psycho-social impacts and damage to land and property. Against this difficult backdrop, UNRWA is confronted with sustained efforts to replace its services in East Jerusalem.

Within a global environment characterized by increasing humanitarian needs and competing demands on resources, UNRWA will continue to face challenges in raising funds for emergency interventions in 2020 that could translate into: (i) reduced food security assistance (in-kind food and emergency cash assistance), and/or Cash-for-Work (CfW) opportunities, leading to increased food insecurity; (ii) diminished access to psychosocial support that would further stretch Palestine refugee resilience and well-being; and/or (iii) diminished protection services for the most vulnerable, including women, persons with disabilities, and survivors of home demolitions and evictions. Emergency assistance provided by UNRWA constitutes the minimum support necessary to meet the critical needs of Palestine refugees. A reduction in such support could have a destabilising effect on the oPt.

The humanitarian problems faced by Palestine refugees today must be addressed as a matter of shared international responsibility, pending a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Palestine refugee question, in accordance with international law and relevant General Assembly resolution.

The 2020 UNRWA Emergency Appeal in the occupied Palestinian territory has three strategic priorities. These focus on: (1) preventing further deteriorations in food security; (2) promoting, protecting and upholding the rights of refugees, including accessing services; and  (3) ensuring that UNRWA has sufficient capacity to effectively implement its emergency programmes. The Agency is requesting US$ 138 million in 2020 to cover the cost of critical emergency interventions in sectors such as food, cash-for-work,  emergency cash assistance, l emergency health, mental health and psychosocial support, education in emergencies, protection and water and sanitation.

In Gaza, priority activities include emergency in-kind food assistance to approximately one million Palestine refugees living beneath the poverty line,  cash-for-work opportunities for 21,000 Palestine refugees and individual counselling for 14,000 refugee children at UNRWA schools. Emergency health will continue to be provided through 22 UNRWA health centres, and 70,000 children will receive support through UNRWA catch-up classes.

In the West Bank, UNRWA will provide emergency food assistance to 37,000 individuals from food-insecure Bedouin and herder communities; and emergency cash assistance to 25,330 abject poor refugees. Through its protection interventions, UNRWA will continue to ensure that protection threats affecting Palestine refugees are prevented and mitigated in accordance with the Agency’s mandate.


Palestine refugees in Syria continue to face severe and multiple needs as a consequence of nine years of conflict and associated hardship. This has resulted in extensive casualties, large-scale and protracted displacement, destruction of civilian infrastructure, a decrease in the provision of public services and the devastation of the economy. At the end of 2019, of the 438,000 Palestine refugees estimated to remain in the country, around 40 per cent remained displaced.

The majority of the 45,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) who are currently registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and Jordan live in conditions of high vulnerability due to their precarious legal status and lack of social protection mechanisms.

In 2020, UNRWA requires US$ 270 million to support critical humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria and PRS in Lebanon and Jordan. The Agency will provide emergency cash assistance to over 450,000 crisis-affected Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to relieve their suffering and help meet their basic needs. UNRWA will also continue to seek funding so that essential services such as health and WASH services in camps can be maintained for Palestine refugees in Syria and PRS in Lebanon and Jordan. UNRWA will also use resources, materials and capacity developed through its Education in Emergencies programme to ensure that refugee children affected by the Syria conflict can continue to access quality, inclusive and equitable education, even in times of crisis and conflict.

Critical protection services will also be provided across the three fields. Livelihoods and vocational training opportunities, with a focus on Palestine refugee youth, will be provided in Syria and in Lebanon depending on the availability of funds.