The central humanitarian principle that underpins all others is humanity, which is understood to mean that “human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found. The purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health, and ensure respect for human beings.“
Now in its seventh decade, the UNRWA humanitarian raison d’être – namely, to alleviate the suffering of Palestine refugees – is as critical as ever. As we look to our next midterm strategy beginning in 2022, humanity remains at the heart of what we do.
This is partly achieved through the advocacy that we pursue as part of our protection mandate, working to ensure that Palestine refugees’ rights are respected on the international plane and compiling reports on topics ranging from the violence inflicted upon Palestinians and Palestine refugees during the Great March of Return, to the punitive use of teargas.
Our commitment to humanity is not limited to advocacy. Humanity guides all of our work. UNRWA is characterized by its unique ability to operate in diverse contexts, including in the most intense and violent conflicts, as well as developmental settings. But regardless of the space in which it takes place, the Agency’s mission always been to address human suffering wherever it is found.
For example, in the UNRWA 2016-2021 midterm strategy, the Agency’s strategic priorities were determined as providing protection to all refugees, including the most vulnerable; improving access to and the quality of primary health care in responding to the changing health needs of refugees; providing quality, inclusive and equitable basic education; building the capacities of refugees so they are better prepared to take advantage of livelihood opportunities; and assisting refugees to meet their basic human needs, especially in times of conflict. These are just a small glimpse into the varied and crucial activities that UNRWA carries out, all of which are aimed at upholding humanity.