About United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA):
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a UN agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. UNRWA’s mandate encompasses Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Palestine War and subsequent conflicts, as well as their descendants, including legally adopted children. As of 2019, more than 5.6 million Palestinians are registered with UNRWA as refugees.
UNRWA was established in 1949 by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to provide relief to all refugees resulting from the 1948 conflict. It also provided relief to Jewish and Arab Palestine refugees inside the State of Israel following the 1948 conflict until the Israeli government took over responsibility for them in 1952. As a subsidiary body of the UNGA, UNRWA’s mandate is subject to periodic renewal every three years; it has consistently been extended since its founding, most recently until 30 June 2023.
UNRWA employs over 30,000 people, most of them Palestinian refugees, and a small number of international staff. Originally intended to provide employment and direct relief, its mandate has broadened to include providing education, health care, and social services to its target population. UNRWA operates in five areas: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; aid for Palestinian refugees outside these five areas is provided by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict. It is distinct from the UNHCR, established in 1950 as the main agency to aid all other refugees worldwide. Unlike UNRWA, UNHCR has a specific mandate to assist refugees in eliminating their refugee status by local integration in the current country, resettlement in a third country or repatriation when possible.
UNRWA has been accused of hiring known militants, perpetuating Palestinian dependency, demonizing Israel, and funneling money from Western governments to line the pockets of the Palestinian Authority and purchasing arms for terrorists. In recent years, the US and several European countries have suspended their funding to UNRWA.