Who We Are

the ‘Dignity for All’ campaign in Lebanon


UNRWA launches the ‘Dignity for All’ campaign in Lebanon to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Palestine refugees in the country, where they lack social and civil rights, have limited access to public services and are banned from several professions; 66 per cent live below the poverty line, and 11 per cent, the highest of any UNRWA field, receive assistance from the UNRWA social safety net. Through talks in Lebanese schools and universities, documentary screenings and camp visits, UNRWA aims to increase communication between young Lebanese and Palestinians in order to begin reversing stereotypes and challenge discrimination.




Nearly all registered refugee children – 99.6 per cent of those aged 12 months and 18 months – receive all required immunizations. Vaccination coverage for registered refugee children has been close to 100 per cent for more than a decade.

armed conflict in Syria

Armed conflict in Syria

March 2011

Popular demonstrations in March 2011 sparked what has become an on-going armed conflict in Syria, affecting the 560,000 registered Palestine refugees, out of which over 60 per cent have been displaced either internally, or outside of the country. As of August 2016, thousands of Palestine refugees have been killed due to armed violence, 18 UNRWA employees have lost their lives and 25 remain detained, presumed detained, or missing.

The Agency continues to offer emergency assistance and services, while adjusting its service delivery to meet the needs of the displaced Palestine refugees. In December 2015, UNRWA launched the 2016 Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal, seeking US$ 414 million to meet the urgent needs of Palestine refugees affected by the armed conflict, providing shelter, accommodation, cash assistance, food and emergency care to those within Syria and those who fled to Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza.

An eight-day conflict

An eight-day conflict

14th November 2012

Eight days of violence witness rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on civilian populations in Israel and relentless Israeli shelling of Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces estimate that 900 Palestinians are injured, and OHCHR later reports a total of 174 Palestinian deaths, at least 168 due to Israeli military action; 101 are believed to be civilians. A total of 239 Israelis, including 219 civilians, are reported injured; 6 are reported killed, including 4 civilians.

UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador

UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador

June 2013

Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, a Palestine refugee from the Gaza Strip, is named the first UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees, helping to support and enhance the Agency’s outreach to and relationship with the young people, between 15 and 30, who make up nearly 42 per cent of the Palestine refugees UNRWA serves.

© 2014 UNRWA Photo by Shareef Sarhan

2014 Gaza conflict

8th July 2014

The scale of human loss, destruction, devastation and displacement caused by the 2014 conflict in Gaza – the third within seven years – was catastrophic, unprecedented and unparalleled in Gaza, since at least the start of the Israeli occupation in 1967 and further eroded whatever resilience the people in Gaza still have left. During the 50 days of hostilities lasting from 8 July until 26 August 2014, 2,251 Palestinians were killed; 1,462 of them are believed to be civilians, including 551 children and 299 women. 66 Israeli soldiers and five civilians, including one child, were also killed. Overall, 11,231 Palestinians were injured during the conflict, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children. Roughly one third of these children will have to cope with disabilities lasting throughout life as a result of their injuries.

During the conflict, 118 UNRWA installations were damaged, including 83 schools and 10 health centres. In total, over 12,600 housing units were totally destroyed and almost 6,500 sustained severe damage. Almost 150,000 additional housing units sustained various degrees of damage and remained inhabitable. The conflict led to a massive displacement crisis in Gaza, with almost 500,000 persons internally displaced at its peak.

Throughout the armed conflict, UNRWA provided humanitarian assistance (including non-food-items, food, water, psycho-social support) to internally displaced persons in 90 of 156 UNRWA school buildings, with the remaining school buildings either unsafe or damaged. On 23 August 2014, a record-high of 292,959 internally displaced persons were counted in 85 UNRWA school buildings.

© UNRWA Photo

Protection Division

January 2016

In recent years, UNRWA has significantly strengthened its protection response in view of the increasing protection challenges faced by Palestine refugees across the region. Since 2015, there are, for the first time in the Agency’s history, dedicated protection teams working on protection in all five UNRWA field offices. In January 2016, a new Protection Division was established at UNRWA headquarters in Amman to provide strategic direction of, and coordination to, the implementation of the diverse protection activities across the Agency.  These include providing technical support to the protection teams in the five field offices and supporting the key role of programme by providing protection in and through UNRWA’s service delivery. The Protection Division consolidated and integrated the different thematic strands of protection work across the Agency including: child protection, gender/gender-based Violence (GBV), and disability.


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.


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