Number of refugees currently served 4.681 million 15.4 million


(Plus 800,000 awaiting refugee status and 12 million stateless people w/o refugee status.  Number does not account for Arab Spring population upheavals.)


Budget $  1.003.7 billion USD $3.32 billion USD                                                       
Countries where it operates 5 123
Offices maintained 5 a series of regional offices, branch offices, sub-offices and field offices in areas where it operates


Size of staff 29,000


Staff/client ratio 1 staff person per 161 refugees


1 staff person per 2,100 refugees
Definition of refugee Anyone who lost place of residence and means of livelihood as a result of 1948 Arab-Israeli war.


Person who is outside country of his habitual residence due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted.
                                  Note:  1951 Refugee Convention applies to all refugees except Palestinian Arabs. 


Descendants of refugees also counted as refugees Yes.

Indefinitely, via male line.

Mandate To provide humanitarian services to the refugees. 



To protect refugees and resolve refugee problems.
Return to place of origin considered an inalienable right




No other options are considered. Refugees are kept in temporary situation pending return – with the status of “refugee” sustained even for those who maintain  citizenship elsewhere




The right protected is to find asylum; resettlement in country of refuge or a third country are options when return is not possible.  Goal is to help refugees get on with their lives and as a result most are resettled, not repatriated.


Education and Health Care provided Yes, UNRWA maintains schools and clinics. Only in certain instances. Countries of refuge are expected to assist.

UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) was created just for Palestinian Arab refugees within a defined area of operation. UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)   is charged with responsibility for all other refugees.

Information acquired from: www.unrwa.org  and www.unhcr.org