Saturday, November 9, 2013

UNWRA ... a crucial lifeline for Palestinian refugees


 The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed by the United Nations on or around 29 November each year, in accordance with mandates given by the General Assembly in its resolutions 32/40 B of 2 December 1977, 34/65 D of 12 December 1979, and subsequent resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the question of Palestine. This year's observance at United Nations Headquarters in New York will take place on Monday, 25 November 2013. Observance at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Vienna will take place on 29 November 2013.

 The date of 29 November was chosen because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people. On that day in 1947, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to be known as the Partition Resolution. That resolution provided for the establishment in Palestine of a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State”, with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under a special international regime. Of the two States to be created under this resolution, only one, Israel, has so far come into being.

The Solidarity Day has traditionally provided an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine is still unresolved and that the Palestinian people is yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly, namely, the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced.

In response to the call of the United Nations, various activities are undertaken annually by Governments and civil society in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. These activities include, among other things, the issuance of special messages of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the organization of meetings, the dissemination of publications and other information material, and the screening of films.

At United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People each year holds a special meeting to observe the Solidarity Day. Invited speakers include the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council, and representatives of relevant United Nations bodies, intergovernmental organizations and Palestine. NGOs are invited to attend and a representative of the international community of NGOs accredited to the Committee addresses the meeting. The special meeting is webcast live.

A special bulletin containing the statements delivered and messages received on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity is published annually by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat.

Other activities organized in New York in connection with the observance of the Day of Solidarity include a Palestinian exhibit or a cultural event sponsored by the Committee and presented by the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, and the screening of a documentary film.

Meetings in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People are also held at the United Nations Offices at Geneva ( and Vienna (

The United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) worldwide are available to assist Governments, NGOs and others wishing to organize special activities in connection with the observance by providing information and documentation.

Show details for 2011 Observance2011 Observance
Show details for 2010 Observance2010 Observance
Show details for 2009 Observance2009 Observance


Palestinian children from UNRWA school

Photo Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation 


November 2013 Vatican's UN spokesman: spare no effort to re-start Israeli-Palestinian talks

Speaking on November 7 to a UN session in New York, the Vatican’s permanent observer said that international leaders should “spare no effort in facilitating negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

The goal of such talks, said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, should be “to to secure through negotiation and reasonable compromise two viable and stable states which give each of the parties independent and secure states for their peoples.”

Archbishop Chullikatt made his remarks in an address to a session on the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). He pointed out that the Catholic Church has a special interest in the plight of Palestinians because of the “ever- shrinking presence of traditional Christian communities in the very birthplace of Christianity.”


Who We Are


We provide assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees to help them achieve their full potential in human development.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.
The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.

In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2014.
> Read the UN Resolution
Palestine refugees
UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.
> More on Palestine refugees

Arab-Israeli War

April - August 1948: More than 700,000 Palestine refugees are displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli War.
Resolution 194

Resolution 194

11th December 1948
The United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 194 (III), resolving that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

Resolution 302

Resolution 302
UNRWA is created by General Assembly resolution 302 (IV), with the initial mandate to provide “direct relief and works programmes” to Palestine refugees, in order to “prevent conditions of starvation and distress… and to further conditions of peace and stability”. UNRWA takes over from the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR), established in 1948.

READ MORE re Mandate:
In response to developments in the region, the General Assembly repeatedly extends and expands the UNRWA mandate, requiring the Agency to engage in a wide variety of humanitarian, development and protection activities based on the needs of beneficiaries.

General Assembly resolution 614 (VII), in 1952, notes a need for “increased relief expenditures” in the UNRWA budget. In 1955, resolution 916 (X) notes the "serious need of other claimants for relief […] namely, the frontier villagers in Jordan, the non-refugee population of the Gaza Strip, a number of refugees in Egypt, and certain of the Bedouin”. General Assembly resolutions in 1958 and 1959 recommend that the Agency increase programmes relating to education, vocational training and self-support, an emphasis that will become an important blueprint for the Agency.

Following the hostilities of June 1967, in which 300,000 people, including some 120,000 Palestine refugees, are rendered homeless or leave their homes, resolution 2252 (ES-V) asks UNRWA to “continue to provide humanitarian assistance… on an emergency basis, and as a temporary measure, to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continued assistance”. In later years, the General Assembly repeatedly restates the Agency’s mandate for those displaced in 1967, and, after the invasion of Lebanon by Israel in 1982, extends it to encompass those displaced by “subsequent hostilities.” In the same year, resolution 37/120 (J) explicitly adds protection to the list of UNRWA responsibilities, urging the Agency to “undertake effective measures to guarantee the safety and security and the legal and human rights of the Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories.”

From 1992 to 2002, UNRWA collaborates with the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) and other specialized agencies of the United Nations system to contribute to the development of economic and social stability in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In 1993, after Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) sign the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, UNRWA begins developing its Peace Implementation Programme, which works “to meet Palestinian requests for assistance and priorities” during the interim period; General Assembly resolution 49/35 (1994) notes its “significant success.”

While other agencies and actors have the central role in arriving at a resolution of the Palestine refugee issue, UNRWA is mandated to work with governments on interim measures and to provide relief and assistance to Palestine refugees “pending the just resolution” of the Palestine refugee question.  The role UNRWA plays in the region has evolved to reflect the needs and pressures of the times, but the Agency’s central mandate remains largely unchanged: UNRWA protects and assists Palestine refugees, seeking to help them achieve their full potential in human development.

No comments:

Post a Comment