Nine Western nations, including the United States, which collectively contributed over 50% of UNRWA’s budget for the year 2022, have opted to temporarily suspend their financial support to the agency.


  • UNRWA stands for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. 
  • It is a UN agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees who were displaced by the 1948 Palestine War and subsequent conflicts, as well as their descendants.


  • Established on December 8, 1949, by UN General Assembly Resolution 302.
  • Initiated as a response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the displacement of Palestinians during the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1948 (Nakba).
  • Initially conceived as a temporary agency to address immediate needs, but the protracted nature of the refugee situation has led to its continued existence.


  • Primary mandate is based on the principle of providing direct relief and works programs for Palestine refugees.
  • The mandate has been extended over the years, encompassing education, health care, social services, and emergency relief.
  • UNRWA’s role has evolved to include supporting the human development of the Palestinian refugees and promoting self-reliance.

Region of Operation:

  • Operates in five fields: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and Gaza Strip.
  • Each field has a directorate responsible for the implementation of UNRWA’s programs and services.
  • The agency’s presence in these areas involves direct engagement with Palestinian refugee communities.


  • Mainly reliant on voluntary contributions from UN member states and other international donors.
  • Funding comes from both regular and emergency appeals.
  • Volatility in funding levels has been a consistent challenge, impacting UNRWA’s ability to provide stable and sustained assistance.


  • Faces challenges related to the political complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Security concerns and restrictions on movement in certain areas affect the delivery of services.
  • Demographic growth and the evolving needs of the refugee population pose ongoing challenges.

Services Provided:

  • Education: Runs over 700 schools, catering to around 530,000 students. Provides basic education, vocational training, and higher education scholarship programs.
  • Health Care: Operates health centres, clinics, and hospitals, offering primary health care, maternal care, and immunization services.
  • Social Services: Provides a range of social services, including relief and social safety net programs.
  • Emergency Relief: Response to crises, conflicts, and emergencies, providing immediate relief, shelter, and support.

Criticism and Controversies:

  • Politicization: UNRWA has been accused of being politically biased, with some critics arguing that its operations contribute to the perpetuation of the refugee issue.
  • Mismanagement: Instances of alleged mismanagement, including allegations of corruption and inefficiency, have been raised.

Reform Efforts:

  • Reform Initiatives: UNRWA has initiated various reforms to enhance efficiency, transparency, and accountability.
  • Donor Coordination: Works on improving coordination with donors and stakeholders to ensure a more sustainable funding model.

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