UNRWA Fact Sheet

Click here to read EMET's fact sheet on UNWRA.

Background

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 in 1949. Its intended use was to facilitate a solution (resettlement and/or repatriation) for the 700,000 Arabs who fled their homes during the 1948 war. Resolution 302 made it clear that UNRWA was to be short-term. Direct relief was to be terminated in December of the following year. However, the General Assembly passed Resolution 393, which asserted: “direct relief cannot be terminated” and recommended the continuation of UNRWA activities and the establishment of a reintegration fund that would “prepare for the termination of international assistance and for the permanent reestablishment of refugees and their removal from relief.” Seven decades later, UNRWA’s “short-term” assistance has not helped facilitate a solution for the refugees, nor has it lead to the economic development. Conversely, UNRWA evolved from a temporary organization that supplied only emergency relief into a permanent governmental and developmental services providing bureaucracy that affirms dependency over self-sufficiency.

Meanwhile, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. UNHCR now handles ALL other refugees. UNHCR has helped over 50 million refugees to restart their lives.

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