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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees 

Context:

India recently announced that it has provided US $ 2.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East or the UNRWA for the welfare of Palestinian refugees.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA):

Establishment and Mandate:

  • Established by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 302 (IV) on December 8, 1949, following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
  • Commenced operations on May 1, 1950, with a mandate to provide direct relief and work programs for Palestinian refugees.
  • The UNGA has consistently renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until June 30, 2023.

Scope and Operations:

  • One of the largest UN programs, catering to around 5 million registered Palestine refugees across five fields of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
  • Uniquely delivers services directly to beneficiaries.
  • Services include education, healthcare, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance, particularly during armed conflicts.

Funding and Reporting:

  • Funded predominantly by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.
  • Receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, primarily for international staffing costs.
  • Reports solely to the UNGA.

Headquarters and Leadership:

  • Originally headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, moved to Vienna, Austria, in 1978.
  • Relocated to the Gaza Strip in 1996, demonstrating the UNGA’s commitment to the Arab-Israeli peace process.
  • The Commissioner-General, UNRWA’s chief officer, is the only leader of a UN agency reporting directly to the General Assembly. Appointed by the UN Secretary-General with the approval of an Advisory Commission.

-Source: The Hindu


 

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