United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Amman, Jordan and Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Established in 1949, it replaced the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees in 1950 as the major UN agency dealing with Palestine refugees. By 2009 more than 4.6 million refugees and their descendents who had been displaced by the various Arab-Israeli Wars were registered with UNRWA, with more than 1.3 million of them living in 58 UNWRA refugee camps. Originally the agency was charged with the care of the refugees until they could be repatriated, compensated, or resettled; UNRWA has, in fact, found itself faced with the job of housing, feeding, and educating people for long periods of time in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. During this period, it has had the difficult task of dealing with the competing interests of Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinian movement.

See B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949 (1988).

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