Sixty-five years ago, UNRWA began providing relief to 700,000 newly-displaced Palestine refugees. Created as a temporary agency until a just and durable solution was achieved, the UNRWA mandate was set to expire in one year.

Sixty-five years later, over 5 million Palestine refugees are still denied their rights. The continued existence of UNRWA is no source of pride; rather, the absence of a just solution for Palestine refugees is a source of international shame.

Palestine refugees face a human development and protection crisis, brought about by the on-going Israeli occupation, blockade on Gaza, the conflict in Syria, constant instability, conflict and violence with negative impacts in all UNRWA's fields of operation and constrained socio-economic conditions throughout the region.

In the absence of a just solution, UNRWA continues to support Palestine refugees. Generous contributions from donors are essential for the provision of vital services and interventions, but in the words of UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, "Palestine refugees need more than just aid. They need a just solution."


‘The Long Journey of Palestine Refugees: A Chronology of Palestinian Displacement and Dispossession’

UNRWA Youth Ambassador performs at International Day for Mine Awareness event in Gaza


Palestine refugees have been on an epic journey since their catastrophic displacement in 1948 and remain, today, a scattered people, further displaced by conflict, blockaded and living under occupation, marginalized by national legislations, deprived of rights and fervently longing for a resolution of their exile and dispossession. UNRWA, the UN Agency created to bring human development and emergency assistance to Palestine refugees, has been with these Palestinians every step of the way. UNRWA photographers have chronicled the Palestine refugee experience since it started operations in 1950. This photo essay is a snapshot of the extensive UNRWA exhibition of archival photographs inaugurated in November 2013 in Jerusalem entitled, ‘The Long Journey of Palestine Refugees’. 

Read More 

With this digital mosaic, UNRWA shares the voices of Palestine refugees calling for a just solution. Listen to their testimonies.

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

Our Nakba was a disaster that befell the Palestinian people. A disaster that will not be forgotten. It cannot be forgotten. It is grief, death, agony and poverty. From 1948 to now, 2015, no other people have had these experiences. We are living through disasters and unimaginable things. What can you say? Words fail to describe the life we have been living.

Mohammad Abu-ziyada, Gaza


My name is Bashar al-Asadi. I am 13-years-old, from Safed in Palestine. I live in Syria. I am in the seventh grade in Haifa school. As a Palestine refugee, it is my right to have a homeland called Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is my right to live in that homeland. I wish for a just solution to our issue.

Bashar Al-Asadi, Syria

Ever since I first became aware that I was Palestinian, I have felt vulnerable as a refugee. My first experience feeling a lack of protection was after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. I was working in Acre Hospital in the camp, during the Sabra and Shatila massacre... We spent two nights in the hospital, knowing that a massacre was happening, knowing that as Palestine refugees we had no protection in the event of an attack. The events of September 1982 triggered constant questions in my mind: ‘who am I’, ‘who are we’, the sense that Palestine refugees have no rights and could die at any moment.

Olfat Mahmoud, lebanon

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

I refuse to live another 65 years in refugee camps, in diaspora. I aspire to return to Palestine at the earliest possible time. I wish to return to our homeland – to see a just solution to our issue. We will return to our homeland in peace, not through killing and destruction.

Raghad Al-Azza, Jordan

The just solution is to return to Palestine as soon as possible. We cannot live more years in a place that is not our homeland.

Hamza Yaghi, jordan

My father always used to speak about his village of Na’ma and dream of returning to Palestine. He passed away, like other refugees, without returning. Their dream of returning died with them. I, and other refugees like me, and after 67 years, want to return to Palestine. I do not want this dream to die with me as it died with my father and other elderly people. The time has come to shed the label of ‘refugee’ and become regular people, carrying the citizenship of their homeland, the passport of their homeland. Our true dilemma as Palestinians lies in finding a homeland rather than a temporary solution. 

Taghrid Mohammed, Syria

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

We have been living in refugee camps since I was born. Nothing changes. We move from one camp to another. I want there to be a just solution to the refugee issue. If the refugee issue continues, we will remain scattered, without a country, state, or identity. I want my children to live in a stable environment without further displacement and dispossession. As long as we are refugees, destruction and shelling continues and our lives are unfair. A just solution for us is to have a country, a name and an identity like other countries. We wish for good lives like everyone else.

Yusra Dola, Gaza

My name is Obaidah Mahmoud Jabr. I am 22-years-old and I live in Nuseirat refugee camp. I am originally from Mughar. The situation in Gaza has a very negative impact on us. We cannot continue to live like this. Every passing hour is hard on us. Whenever we try to take a step forward, something will push us back. We are prevented from bettering our harsh living conditions. A just solution is to have the chance to live in dignity, like people elsewhere. We need a just solution because we are human. Other people are living dignified lives; why are we deprived of this because we are Palestine refugees? There should be a just solution. 

Obida Jabr, Gaza

I live without hope. When I build a house, I don’t build it thinking I will leave it after a year. I have already built six or seven houses in Lebanon; I had to keep moving because there’s no solution and we don’t have self-determination. The Palestinian people are still oppressed, but the oppression will not last forever. One day, the sun will shine again. 

Yousef Hassan, Lebanon

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

As long as the occupation continues, anger and psychological problems increase. It is difficult for a person when their heart is filled with hate instead of love. It becomes hard to accept others. People are emotional creatures and there is love in their hearts; they want peace. People want to live. They want peace.

Abu Saleh, West Bank

My name is Husniyeh Hasan. I am a Palestinian from Tiberius, living in Yarmouk camp. I was born and raised in the camp, and had to leave because of the armed groups that entered the camp. After our displacement from Palestine, we’ve been displaced again from Yarmouk camp and our lives are miserable. I am always worried because my son and my family are still in the camp. I wish the camp could go back to what it was before. If I cannot return to the camp, I want to return to Palestine. I lived a full year under siege in Yarmouk. The siege was very difficult. I have had my fill of suffering and dispossession since 1948. It is our right to have a homeland where we can live and raise our children.

Husniyeh Hasan, Syria

I am Mohammad Abdulaziz Hassan al-Hilo, mukhtar of Beit Jarja. Our fate has been suffering. This century has been full of suffering. We have not seen any easy days. We used to farm, harvest and live from the land in our homeland. We used to live on our land; the land we inherited from our grandfathers and their grandfathers. There is no place dearer to us than our homeland. The people should be returned to their country. You still ask about justice? There is no justice. 

Mohammad Al Hilo, Gaza

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

I need a just solution to our issue. In my opinion, that is the return to my homeland, Palestine. We do not want our suffering to continue for another 65 years. There is no substitute for our right to return to our homeland. This is a legitimate right for every Palestine refugee - to return to our homeland.

Khawleh Baker, Jordan

I am Mohammad al-Korshan. I am a resident of a Bedouin gathering east of Jerusalem. Our gathering has been destroyed three times after our last displacement: in 2000, 2004 and 2011. Each time, it is demolished completely. We are Bedouin, we are refugees and we live under occupation - these cannot be separated from each other. Now, from a humanitarian perspective, our circumstances are bad. There is unemployment. Now, because of the occupation and the pressure we live under, we have lost our livestock and our livelihoods as herders and traders. 

Mohammad Al Korshan, West Bank

My name is Shadi al-Sheikh Khaled. I am 26-years-old, from Ja’oona in Palestine. I am a refugee in Syria, from Yarmouk camp. I was displaced from Yarmouk camp as a result of the events in Syria. Now, I cannot rent a house because I do not have work. It is my right, like every other human, to live and teach my children to love Palestine. We have had enough dispossession. Waiting for another 65 years to return to Palestine is not just. We are the people of Palestine, despite the hardships we face, we want a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestine refugee issue.

Shadi Khaled, Syria

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

My name is Ahmad Shehadeh Sadiyeh, from Tiberius in Palestine and a resident of Yarmouk camp. We had to flee Yarmouk camp and wish to return. This is another Nakba that has exhausted us. The Yarmouk Nakba is harder than the first Nakba. The Yarmouk Nakba destroyed many homes and expelled many people. We are very, very tired. We want a solution to return to our homeland, to have an identity we can be proud of. Our homeland is precious.

Ahmad Sa'adiyeh, Syria

Life in the refugee camp – Baqa’a camp – has meant we suffer a lot. We cannot live another 65 years suffering like this. Returning to our homeland is our right. It is our duty to pursue and struggle for this right because our homeland awaits us. We cannot permit living for another 65 years in this situation. Despite living in our second home, we have not given up our homeland and we want to return to it. 

Shafeeqa Abu Zaineh, Jordan

My name is Ahmed Abdel’aal. I am a Palestinian from Syria. I was living in Yarmouk refugee camp. I came to Lebanon on 15 September 2012 because of the situation in Syria. A year ago, my father-in-law passed away and my wife and youngest daughter, 3-years-old, went to Syria to see her family. While she was there, a decision was made in Lebanon to ban Palestinian Syrians from entering. I have two sons here - one is 17-years-old and the other is 13-years-old. My wife wants to come here, so we applied for family reunification, but there has been no resolution. We have tried and they have tried. A mother wants to enter and see her children. I want to see my child.

Ahmed Abdel Aal, Lebanon

UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo   UNRWA Photo

Why does this happen to me because I am a refugee? I live under blockade, in difficult, devastating conditions. In Gaza, there is blockade. Wars occur. All of this has a very negative impact on us. It affects us economically as well, and we cannot find work. Every morning, we wake and hope that our circumstances as refugees will change for the new generation, for our children. We cannot continue like this. 

Yusuf Al Omari, Gaza

My name is Amal Mousa. I am a Palestinian from Safed, from Sayadiya. We took refuge in Syria, at Sbeineh camp. We were displaced three years ago as a result of the conflict and circumstances in Syria. Now, I am in a collective shelter in Jaramana camp with my four children. I lost my husband in the conflict. Tragically, as the Palestinian people, we have been living in diaspora for 65 years, in every corner of the world. We are tired, but we try to teach our children about Palestine: the capital, the flag, the culture - everything. I wish we could live like all other people in the world. Our dream is the right of return.

Amal Mousa, Syria

My name is Tareq al-Korshan. I am a Bedouin Palestine refugee living in the West Bank. I am originally from the Negev desert, forcibly displaced in 1948. As Bedouin, our livelihoods rely on animal resources and we live in desert areas, away from cities, so we can utilize natural resources. Today, we live in the West Bank under the aggressive actions of the occupation. Now, the Israeli occupation forces plan to forcibly relocate the Bedouin to established settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. This is the opposite of our Bedouin lifestyle. We, Bedouin Palestine refugees, deserve a just solution.

Tariq Al Korshan, West Bank

UNRWA thanks its top 10 donors for their support for Palestine refugees over the past 65 years


USA flag   EU flag   UK flag   Sweden flag   Japan flag
United States of America
European Union
United Kingdom
Norway flag   Saudi Arabia flag   Germany flag   Netherlands flag   Canada flag
Saudi Arabia