What We Do

Relief & Social Services
Relief & Social Services
We promote the development and self-reliance of less-advantaged members of the Palestine refugee community – especially women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly.
RSS staff
Women's Programme Centres
Community Rehabilitation Centres
Community Managed Fund Schemes

To support the Agency’s mission of helping Palestine refugees achieve their full human development potential and a decent standard of living, the UNRWA Relief and Social Services (RSS) programme provides a range of direct and indirect social protection services. We have three main goals:

  • We provide social safety net assistance, on a quarterly basis, to the most impoverished Palestine refugees. Of the some 5.9 million Palestine Refugees registered with UNWRA, it is estimated that 1.2 million live in absolute poverty, and 700,000 in abject poverty, unable to meet their most basic food needs. As of the beginning of 2020, approximately 156,000 people received cash-based transfers and 98,000 received food assistance as per the social safety net assistance under the programme budget funded Social Safety Net programme (SSNP), which provides basic food commodities along with modest supplemental cash assistance.  
  • We maintain, update and preserve Palestine refugees' records. More than 17 million documents, including birth certificates, property deeds and registration documents, some of them dating back to pre-1948 Palestine, have been scanned and preserved. A new, Agency-wide Refugee Registration Information System helps determine Palestine refugees’ eligibility for UNRWA services and allows them to submit important amendments and changes to their records.
  • We empower the Palestine refugees we serve. Our programme partners with community-based organizations to promote the development and self-reliance of marginalized groups, including women, children, youth, elderly people and persons with disabilities. 
Major achievements

Of the five UNRWA fields, four are employing a poverty-based targeting system using a proxy means test formula. This represents a change from the practice of assigning benefits on the basis of status, as in the past, to determining eligibility for benefits on the basis of a household’s position in relation to the relevant poverty line.

The web-based, Agency-wide Refugee Registration Information System has created a centralized, secure system where Palestine refugees’ records are protected, updated and accessed to assess eligibility for UNRWA services. 

Relief & Social Services In Our Fields

Our main objective in Gaza is to ensure unified, consistent and enhanced poverty targeting and interventions processes, which will enable us to mitigate poor households’ suffering, incorporate human-development work and make efficient use of the resources available. The integration of the Emergency Programme with RSS, in April 2013, has led to several structural changes and a number of added units and divisions, which have enabled us to focus on more sustainable programmes in our different divisions. We hope that now we will be able to formulate a comprehensive programme to better serve...Read more

In the West Bank, RSS provides basic food supplies and cash subsides, as well as emergency cash grants and adequate shelter, to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees. In addition, we have an array of sub-programmes that focus specifically on the needs of women, refugees with disabilities, young people and the elderly.

The women’s programme offers a wide range of integrated services to enhance knowledge and capabilities, such as livelihood skills training and education. Activities include advocacy campaigns and awareness-raising sessions on domestic violence and human rights....Read more

In Syria, in addition to the social safety net assistance that we provide for poor Palestine refugees across the five fields, the Department of Relief and Social Services (RSS) administers the emergency food, cash and non-food items (NFI) distributions to Palestine refugee families who have been displaced or impoverished by the ongoing conflict.

We also support other activities related to the Agency’s emergency response, with social workers now routinely visiting refugees residing in the collective shelters housed in UNRWA facilities. As of March 2014, 17 UNRWA facilities in Syria...Read more

The Relief and Social Services (RSS) programme in Lebanon assists impoverished Palestine refugees and promotes the development and self-reliance of disadvantaged members of the refugee community, especially women, children, youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly.

Our social safety net programme (SSNP) provides quarterly in-kind food and cash assistance to around 334,812 Palestine refugees in Lebanon, including emergency cash assistance for specific cases of urgent need. We recently reformed our targeting approach for this programme, guided by a socioeconomic survey of...Read more

The UNRWA Relief and Social Services (RSS) programme in Jordan addresses some of the most pressing socioeconomic needs of the Palestine refugee community. It promotes community-based action that enables particularly vulnerable Palestine refugees to become more self-reliant. The programme is committed to developing the institutional capacity of 24 community-based organizations (CBOs) that are managed by Local Administrative Committees (LACs). RSS has three main divisions:

RSS works to alleviate poverty among Palestine refugee families, with priority given to the abject poor, or the...Read more