UN General Assembly Renews UNRWA Mandate

14 December 2022

This week, the majority of member states of the United Nations voted to extend the mandate for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until 30 June 2026. Established in 1949 to provide essential services to Palestine refugees, UNRWA is the only UN agency that is a direct service provider including running a full fledge school and primary health systems. 

“For more than 70 years, the international community has stood together to support UNRWA because of the critical work we do to protect vulnerable lives and our contribution to regional stability. Once again, member states have reaffirmed our irreplaceable role as Palestine refugees face unprecedented hardships and challenges,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “Member states need to translate their political support into resources to allow the Agency to fulfil its mandate. Supporting UNRWA is a vote of confidence in the future of millions of refugees who deserve to live a life of dignity in peace”.

UNRWA is globally recognized for the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of its services. Yet despite consistent, broad-based global support for its lifesaving mission across decades, the Agency is confronting a severe funding deficit. 

Next month, UNRWA will launch the Agency’s annual financial appeal. Commissioner-General Lazzarini has warned in recent weeks that without renewed efforts to close the funding gap, UNRWA may not have sufficient funds to fulfill its mandate. 

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Notes to Editors: 

·   Despite chronic underfunding and unprecedented, overlapping challenges in the five fields in which UNRWA operates: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Agency has managed to deliver on its mandate, including by providing over half a million girls and boys with education in more than 700 schools, contributing to the employability of 8,000 youth through vocational training, and affording primary health care to over 2 million patients.  

·       In Lebanon, where more than 200,000 Palestine refugees are mired in a desperate situation, UNRWA has mobilized to distribute emergency cash assistance, head off an emerging cholera outbreak, and winterize refugee camps where temperatures drop below zero degrees celsius.  

·       In Gaza, the Agency’s basic food assistance to over 1.1 million refugees has been indispensable amid global inflation and supply chain disruptions. 

·       UNRWA has continued to innovate in recent years to deliver high-quality services:  

o   Last year, the Agency launched a globally celebrated digital learning platform to enable remote education for students disrupted by school shutdowns or other crises.  

o   UNRWA cutting-edge Information & Communication Technology centre educates highly qualified graduates, young women and men, and is entirely staffed by refugees. 

o   The Agency is also pioneering digital health care, spearheading in recent years new telemedicine programs and smartphone applications to support patients 

Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to  the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


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