Palestinian refugees today

In 2019, more than 5.6 million Palestinians were registered as refugees with UNRWA. All of them were eligible for access to services and support within UNRWA’s fields of activity in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.

UNRWA received a lot of attention in 2019 when former Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl resigned after allegations of corruption. Photo: European Parliament

In 2019, 533,000 refugee children participated in UNRWA schools, 3.5 million refugees received primary care services, over 1.75 million poor people received food, social services or emergency humanitarian aid. Basic education and primary care services are available to all Palestinian refugees who seek them, while other aid such as cash, food distribution or hospital support are only available to those whom UNRWA defines as poor. UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to assisting refugees from a specific region or conflict. UNHCR is the UN’s main body for helping all other refugees around the world. Unlike UNRWA, UNHCR has a specific mandate to help refugees eliminate their refugee status through local integration in the current country, resettlement in a third country or possible repatriation.

Up to 30,000 Palestinians employed

UNRWA has over 30,000 employees, most of them Palestinian refugees, while a small number are international employees. The organization has two headquarters (Gaza and Amman), five field offices (Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the West Bank) and four Representative Offices in New York, Geneva, Brussels and Cairo. In Gaza, where the terrorist organization Hamas is in authority, large sections of the population receive support from UNRWA which operates in practice as a government on the Gaza Strip, where it is responsible for most schools and health-care facilities and where half of the budget goes to education.