While humanity is at the heart of all of the Agency’s work, effective humanitarian action can only be carried out when our impartiality is understood and respected. Impartiality is understood to mean that “humanitarian action must be carried out on the basis of need alone, giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress, and making no distinctions on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class, or political opinion.” It ensures objectivity, but above all, humanitarian fairness, by ensuring that the only criterion is need and need alone.
Whilst impartiality recognises that circumstances are not the same for everybody, it also ensures that all humans have the same rights. Relief must, therefore, be proportional to need, without discriminating based on affiliation to any particular group. UNRWA is committed in its midterm strategy to reaching the most vulnerable Palestine refugees, in line with the principle that relief must be proportional to need. For example, the UNRWA health programme accords highest priority to refugees with life-threatening illnesses who lack the necessary financial assets or insurance coverage to attain medical treatment. Similarly, the UNRWA education programme’s midterm strategy aims to increase its focus upon students who require targeted interventions, such as children with disabilities, children from poor backgrounds, children with additional psychosocial needs, and children who have experienced abuse, physical violence and exploitation.
To carry out this work, UNRWA must consistently affirm its impartiality and ensure that its decisions are made on a “needs only” basis. Therefore, UNRWA has stringent measures in place to ensure that the Agency’s buildings (or “installations”) are not affiliated with any particular group or otherwise used in a manner that would imply a lack of impartiality. In addition, the Agency’s staff conduct framework aims to ensure that our staff behave at all times in a manner consistent with our mission to protect the life and health and ensure the respect of Palestine refugees.