United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated


UNRRA (abbreviation of United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration ), international organization (1943–47) founded to give economic and social aid to countries that were under German occupation during World War ii. unrra, a division of the *United Nations, was actually founded before the establishment of the United Nations, by an agreement signed by the delegates of 44 countries at a White House ceremony on Nov. 9, 1943. The unrra Council, its governing body, was convened for the first time in Atlantic City, New Jersey the next day, and elected Herbert *Lehman as its director general; he was succeeded by Fiorello *La Guardia in 1946. The United States contributed the bulk of its budget and the organization received significant support from Britain, the Soviet Union, and China, which provided 75% of its budget and formed its central committee. It was later expanded to include other countries, including France, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Yugoslavia. The relief activities of unrra encompassed the liberated countries of Europe, with extensive aid provided for the Soviet Union, Poland, and the Balkan countries. Relief was also given to Far Eastern and Middle Eastern countries. The services supplied amounted to almost $3 billion and included food supplies amounting to over $1.2 billion, medicines and medical services, clothing, and machines and materials for agricultural and industrial rehabilitation.

Another prominent function of unrra was care for *Displaced Persons, for which it assumed responsibility in October 1945. It was overwhelmed by the task at first – no one had prepared for the scope of the problem – but later it geared up to perform the task. At its peak, in the summer of 1946, unrra cared for some 850,000 persons. During this period, it operated with a staff of about 25,000 people and was also assisted by many voluntary agencies. About one-quarter of the Displaced Persons under the care of unrra in the summer of 1946 were Jews. Voluntary Jewish organizations active within unrra and attached to it included the American Jewish *Joint Distribution Committee, the *Jewish Agency, the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad, *Ort, and the Va'ad Haẓẓalah. unrra activities ended in the summer of 1947, when its role in the care of dps was transferred to the new International Refugee Organization (iro).


G. Woodbridge, unrra, 3 vols. (Eng., 1950). add. bibliography: M.R. Marrus, The Unwanted European Refugees in the Twentieth Century (1985); M.J. Proudfoot, European Refugees: 19391945 (1956).

[Chaim Yahil /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

views updated

UNRRA (or Unrra) (ˈʌnrə) United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration


United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration