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What is UNRWA and what is its Role?
  • UNRWA, the The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was created by the UN General Assembly in December 1949 and is dedicated solely to the welfare of Palestinian Arab refugees. All other refugees throughout the world receive support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  • Since 1951, the UNHCR has found long-term solutions for the refugee groups for which it was responsible, and through legal protection and emergency aid has successfully helped over 25 million refugees start over and begin new lives.  On the other hand, no sustainable solution has been found for the Palestinian refugees in the 63 years since the 1948 war.
  • The number of Palestinian refugees in 1948 has been estimated in the range of 500,000 to 750,000 (by various scholars and the UN). Today, the number of refugees is estimated at nearly 5 million, as UNRWA regulations and definitions allow the status of “refugee” to be passed on to descendants indefinitely, as opposed to UNHCR definitions for refugees anywhere else in the world.
  • The vast majority of the Palestinian refugees live in, or near, fifty eight refugee camps located in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
  • Since its inception in 1949, UNRWA has provided Palestinian refugees and their descendants with education, health, welfare, urban planning and small-business aid services.
  • UNRWA has an annual budget of approximately 1.25 billion dollars, donated mostly by Western democracies, led by the United States and the European Union.







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