IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th June, 2023 International Relations

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  • Financial crisis facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).



  • UNRWA is an agency established by the United Nations to provide assistance and support to Palestine refugees.
  • It was created in 1949 to address the needs of Palestinians who were displaced during the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1948.

Mandate and Objectives

  • UNRWA's primary mandate is to provide essential services to Palestine refugees, including education, healthcare, relief, and social services.
  • The agency aims to alleviate the suffering of refugees and contribute to their well-being and development.
  • UNRWA also promotes human development and self-reliance among the refugee population.

Areas of Operation

  • UNRWA operates in five areas: Jordan, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria.
  • These areas host significant populations of Palestine refugees who are eligible for UNRWA's assistance.

Services Provided by UNRWA

  • Education: UNRWA operates schools for Palestinian refugee children, providing basic and secondary education.
  • Healthcare: The agency offers medical services, including primary healthcare, maternal care, and emergency medical assistance.
  • Relief and Social Services: UNRWA provides essential relief items, social support, and vocational training programs.
  • Microfinance: UNRWA supports microfinance initiatives to promote economic self-sufficiency among refugees.
  • Camp Improvement and Infrastructure: The agency works on improving living conditions in refugee camps and maintaining essential infrastructure.

Funding Challenges

  • UNRWA faces significant funding challenges, leading to a financial crisis.
  • The agency heavily relies on voluntary contributions from donor countries to sustain its operations.
  • Shortfalls in funding can impact UNRWA's ability to provide essential services to Palestine refugees.

Role in Regional Stability

  • UNRWA plays a crucial role in maintaining stability and providing a safety net for Palestine refugees in the region.
  • By addressing the basic needs of refugees, UNRWA contributes to conflict prevention and development in the region.

Political Context and Future Prospects

  • The political situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has implications for UNRWA's operations and funding.
  • A political resolution to the conflict is seen as essential for the long-term sustainability of UNRWA's work.
  • Efforts are ongoing to secure sustainable funding and support for the agency's activities.

About  Israel-Palestinian conflict

Historical Background

  • The Israel-Palestinian conflict refers to the ongoing political and territorial dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • The conflict has deep historical roots, stemming from competing claims and aspirations for the same land.

Zionist Movement and the Creation of Israel

  • The Zionist movement emerged in the late 19th century, advocating for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • In 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan, which led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Displacement of Palestinians and the Refugee Issue

  • The establishment of Israel resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who became refugees.
  • Palestinians and their supporters argue for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their original homes.

Israeli Occupation and Settlements

  • Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, which are considered Palestinian territories.
  • The construction of Israeli settlements in these territories has been a major point of contention and obstacle to peace negotiations.

Peace Process and Failed Agreements

  • Numerous peace initiatives and negotiations have taken place, including the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.
  • Despite some progress, a final agreement that resolves all core issues, such as borders, Jerusalem, refugees, and security, has remained elusive.

Violence and Security Concerns

  • The conflict has been characterized by periods of intense violence, including armed confrontations, terrorism, and military operations.
  • Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered casualties and security concerns, leading to cycles of retaliation and further escalation.

Status of Jerusalem

  • Jerusalem holds deep religious and historical significance for both Israelis and Palestinians.
  • The city's status has been a contentious issue, with conflicting claims and aspirations for control over East Jerusalem, which includes holy sites for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

International Diplomatic Efforts

  • The international community has made efforts to mediate and facilitate peace negotiations, including the involvement of the United Nations, the United States, and regional actors.
  • Various peace proposals, such as the two-state solution, have been put forward to achieve a lasting resolution.

Humanitarian and Human Rights Concerns

  • The conflict has resulted in humanitarian crises, including restrictions on movement, access to resources, and the living conditions of Palestinians.
  • Human rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force have been raised by international organizations and human rights advocates.

Future Prospects and Challenges

  • Finding a sustainable resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict remains a complex challenge.
  • Key issues, such as borders, settlements, Jerusalem, and the status of refugees, need to be addressed through meaningful negotiations and compromise.


Q. Which of the following is NOT a core mandate of UNRWA?

(A) Providing education to Palestinian refugees

(B) Providing healthcare to Palestinian refugees

(C) Providing food assistance to Palestinian refugees

(D) Providing employment opportunities to Palestinian refugees

Answer: (D)