Who We Are

Arab-Israeli War

1st April 1948

April - August 1948: More than 700,000 Palestine refugees are displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli War.

Resolution 194

Resolution 194

11th December 1948

The United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 194 (III), resolving that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those...

Resolution 302

Resolution 302

8th December 1949

UNRWA is created by General Assembly resolution 302 (IV), with the initial mandate to provide “direct relief and works programmes” to Palestine refugees, in order to “prevent conditions of starvation and distress… and to further conditions of peace and stability”. UNRWA takes over from the...

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We provide assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees to help them achieve their full potential in human development.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.

The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.

Establishment

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.

In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2020.

Palestine refugees

UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration. 

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.

Read more about Palestine Refugees

Human Development Goals
The United Nations describes human development in the following terms...
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon administered the oath of office to Pierre Krähenbühl, new Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 20 April 2015. The Secretary-General (left) with Mr. Krähenbühl after the swearing in. UN Photo/Mark Garten
Pierre Krähenbühl has served as UNRWA Commissioner-General since...
How We Are Funded
UNRWA benefits from the generous support of UN Member States, the...
How We Spend Funds
Operating within a resource-constrained environment, and reliant on...
Reforming UNRWA
In 2007, UNRWA began a comprehensive reform programme to strengthen...
UNRWA Advisory Commission Meeting, June 2014. © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Alaa Ghoseh
The Advisory Commission was created by UN Resolution 302 (IV) on 8...
Organizational Structure
UNRWA is one of the largest United Nations programmes, with over 30,...
Frequently asked questions
This section deals with general queries about UNRWA. For the Agency’s...
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees