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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES IN THE NEAR EAST (UNRWA)

Organization that aids Palestine refugees.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was created by UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) on 8 December 1949, with the mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and emergency relief to Palestine refugees who had lost their homes and livelihood as a result of the ArabIsrael War of 1948. Palestine refugees within the purview of UNRWA are persons whose normal residences were in Palestine for a minimum of two years before the 1948 war, and their descendants. In 1949 UNRWA extended assistance to some 750,000 refugees, practically all of them Palestinian Arabs. By 2001 UNRWA had 3,874,738 registered refugees on its rolls, and was present in 59 refugee camps in the Middle East.

UNRWA's humanitarian activities have centered on three major programs: an educational program that ran 647 elementary and preparatory schools and vocational centers with 457,349 students in 1999; a health program with a network of units and medical staff that registered 7,163,056 patient visits in 1999; and a relief and social services program to assist disadvantaged groups. UNRWA also has set up special programs to improve the living conditions in refugee camps, especially housing and environmental sanitation, and to respond to emergencies. UNRWA has often had to carry out its mission in the midst of civil strife and military conflict. During the ArabIsrael War of 1967, more than 350,000 Palestinians fled from the territories seized by Israel; these included 200,000 refugees from the 1948 war, who were displaced for a second time. Later, the 1970 fighting between Jordan's army and the armed elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) stationed in Jordan, another ArabIsrael War (October 1973), the Lebanese civil war that started in 1975, Israel's invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and in 1982, the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) and Israel's response to it, and more recently, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf Crisis (19901991) all had serious effects on the conditions of Palestine refugees and the work of UNRWA. The organization was long headquartered in Beirut, but due to the Lebanese civil war it moved to Vienna in 1978. In 1994 it announced that it was moving to Gaza, to territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The move was completed by July 1996.

UNRWA's budget is funded 95 percent by voluntary contributions. In 2002 the UN General Assembly approved a cash and in-kind budget of $326.2 million, of which UNRWA actually received $305.9 million. With the significant increases in costs associated with the wide-scale destruction wrought during the al-Aqsa Intifada that began in October 2000, the agency's budgetary needs have increased considerably. Yet the shortfall had to be made up by cutbacks. Actual expenditures during 2002 were $293.8 million, $32.3 million less than had been budgeted for by the General Assembly. By early 2003, UNRWA was facing a dire financial situation, and had made six emergency appeals for additional funding within a year.

see also aqsa intifada, al-; arabisrael war (1948); arabisrael war (1967); arabisrael war (1973); gaza (city); gulf crisis (19901991); intifada (19871991); palestine liberation organization (plo); palestinian authority; refugees: palestinian.


Bibliography

UNRWA web site. Available from <www.un.org/unrwa>.

Viorst, Milton. Reaching for the Olive Branch: UNRWA and Peace in the Middle East. Washington, DC: Middle East Institute, 1989.

f. t. liu
updated by michael r. fischbach

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"United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/united-nations-relief-and-works-agency-palestine-refugees-near-east-unrwa

"United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/united-nations-relief-and-works-agency-palestine-refugees-near-east-unrwa

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Amman, Jordan and Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Established in 1949, it replaced the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees in 1950 as the major UN agency dealing with Palestine refugees. By 2009 more than 4.6 million refugees and their descendents who had been displaced by the various Arab-Israeli Wars were registered with UNRWA, with more than 1.3 million of them living in 58 UNWRA refugee camps. Originally the agency was charged with the care of the refugees until they could be repatriated, compensated, or resettled; UNRWA has, in fact, found itself faced with the job of housing, feeding, and educating people for long periods of time in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. During this period, it has had the difficult task of dealing with the competing interests of Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinian movement.

See B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949 (1988).

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"United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/united-nations-relief-and-works-agency-palestine-refugees-near-east

"United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/united-nations-relief-and-works-agency-palestine-refugees-near-east