UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees – was founded as a humanitarian agency but has subordinated its role as a service provider to a political agenda.

It is the only UN agency in the world dedicated exclusively to one group of refugees and establishes its own unique and expansive standards. It defines as refugees hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who would be discounted by the UNHCR Refugee Convention’s international definition.

As the UNRWA mandate is predicated upon the notion of the “right of return”– a right that in fact does not exist within international law – it maintains a policy of keeping the refugees in a temporary situation until they can return to homes and villages in Israel left more than half a century ago (the vast majority of which no longer exist).

UNRWA will not work to find realistic solutions to the plight of the refugees and will not consider resettlement as an option. Instead, it reinforces the goal of return.


UNRWA: Overview and Policy Critique