UNRWA (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – International Organization)

News-CRUX-10     30th January 2024        
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Context: UN officials  urged countries to reconsider their decision to suspend the funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), assuring that it would take strict action against any staff member found to be involved in Hamas’ attack on Israel.


  • About: UNRWA, an acronym for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, was established in 1949. 
  • Objective: To provide assistance to approximately 700,000 Palestinians who were compelled to leave their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, now residing in various countries.
  • Refugee Support: UNRWA operates in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, along with Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—nations where the displaced Palestinians sought refuge. 
  • Focus: On delivering education, health, relief, and social services, as well as implementing microfinance and emergency assistance programs both inside and outside refugee camps.
  • Refugee Population: Presently, UNRWA serves approximately 5.9 million Palestine refugees, primarily comprising descendants of the original refugees. 
  • Notably, over 1 million people in Gaza, constituting 85% of the enclave's 2.3 million population, are seeking refuge in UNRWA schools and facilities following the recent Israel-Hamas conflict.
  • Funding: UNRWA relies heavily on voluntary contributions from donor states, with the United States being a significant contributor. Additionally, the agency receives a limited subsidy from the UN, specifically designated for administrative expenses.
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