Free «UNRWA: Activities and Jobs» Essay Sample

UNRWA: Activities and Jobs


Migration is one of the most important problems of the contemporary world. It is not only a simple mechanical movement of the people, but a complex process involving many socio-economic, socio-political, ethnic, moral, and psychological aspects of the people and even the entire countries. Out of all the existing categories of the migrant population, refugees are increasingly becoming the subject of discussion in public, social, and political structures. To establish control over the situations involving the mass exodus of people from a particular country, the states implement a wide array of measures, including the provision of the financial aid. In these activities, the international organizations often serve as the intermediaries between the countries and refugees, being responsible for the development of different programs aimed at meeting the needs of the latter. The following work focuses on the description of the activities and jobs of one of such entities, namely the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).


Among the large number of issues caused by the Middle East for over 50 years, the one, regarding the Palestinian refugees, which arose after the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, is among the most pressing. At that time, the international community was aware of the scale of the problem, with the United Nations deciding to establish a separate entity that would report directly to the General Assembly. As a result, the UNRWA was created in December 1949. The decision was made when it became clear that the government of the newly established State of Israel does not want to give consent to return any significant number of refugees on its territory (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 285).

The UNRWA has started its activity in May 1950, using the documentation on registration of refugees, which was created by several international organizations, including the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR) (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 132). In accordance with its mandate, the UNRWA had to implement the programs of direct assistance to such people in cooperation with local governments and consult with the representatives of the Middle East states to advance the adoption of measures in the event of international assistance termination. At the same time, the activities of the UNRWA apply only to the registered Palestinian refugees living in the areas reporting to the agency (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 84).

The UNRWA is responsible for the organization and implementation of measures to address the problems of education, as well as the provision of health and social services both within and outside the refugee camps. It should be noted that the agency does not manage the camps and maintains the political neutrality (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 195). The first of the activities (the educative one) has always been a priority in the work of the UNRWA as it spends more than a half of its budget on it. It provides general, pedagogical, and technical education for the children of the Palestinian refugees within the prescribed curricula of the host countries. During the development of the educational programs, the UNESCO standards, as well as the needs of refugees (the preservation of their identity and cultural heritage) are also taken into account. The agency consistently improves the quality of teaching and training, relying on the technical expertise of its professionals and support of the UNESCO (Abdul-Hamid et al. 2). This area involves approximately two-thirds of its staff, meaning that the jobs, such as educator and culturologist, are vital for the work of the UNRWA. The evidence of its educational activity effectiveness is represented by the fact that Palestinians are considered one of the most educated nations in the Middle East (Abdul-Hamid et al. 4).

The basis for the UNRWA’s activities in the field of healthcare is its network of primary medical facilities, which covers more tha nine million people. At the same time, the organization takes measures to reduce costs and ensure the optimum use of limited financial and human resources. Similarly, the agency prioritizes the initiatives that were started in the framework of its peace-making initiative by restoring and updating the health infrastructure at the basic level and improving sanitary conditions in refugee camps (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 210). The UNRWA provides the primary healthcare services that include the outpatient care, prevention and treatment of various diseases, the maintenance of the high level of maternal and child health, and family planning services (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 53). As a result, jobs, such as the general practitioner, physician, therapist, dentist, gynecologist, and pediatrician are of utmost importance for the agency.

Currently, the UNRWA’s healthcare facilities provide several millions of people, including children and pregnant women, with medical consultations and preventive care, as well as treat such non-communicable diseases as diabetes and hypertension. The category of primary healthcare also includes the services of medical specialists, such as obstetricians and cardiologists. In addition to the services offered by the UNRWA hospital in Qalqilya and the maternity wards in Gaza, the agency provides inpatient care, assisting the refugee patients hospitalized in public hospitals and clinics of the non-governmental organizations (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 44). Moreover, its activity in the field of healthcare involves the provision of food aid in the form of dry rations to the most vulnerable groups of refugees, including pregnant women and nursing mothers. Finally, the outreach is one of the main elements of the UNRWA’s activity and is based on the multi-pronged approach. The ongoing programs are primarily focused on the promotion of a healthy lifestyle to the population belonging to risk groups. Consequently, the job of an educator becomes important for the agency. The independent evaluations have repeatedly illustrated the efficiency of UNRWA-established health care system in the refugee camps, as evidenced by the high life expectancy of the Palestinian refugees (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 61).

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Finally, the UNRWA provides the emergency and social services for people in need to facilitate their social and economic independence and development. Such goal is achieved through the provision of a targeted short-term relief to the poor and the implementation of the long-term social welfare programs. The latter include measures to alleviate poverty (training and enterprise support), which primarily target women, unemployed youths, the disabled, and other people who would otherwise have had difficulties in finding a job and a source of income (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 74). One of the strategic directions of such activity is to strengthen the community’s own mechanisms that allow addressing the problems through provision of technical and financial support. Particular attention is paid to the continuation of the process of transition from the direct assistance to consulting (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 147).

At the same time, the UNRWA coordinates a wide array of new specialized programs and projects that are aimed at meeting the needs of refugees, as well as on their social and economic development. They include the long-term special projects that are supposed to improve the infrastructure and living conditions in the camps, as well as the special projects to complement the regular UNRWA programs. In this regard, one of the most significant and large-scale activities was the construction of the European Gaza Hospital. Its creation was dictated by the desire of the European Union to contribute to the development of the Palestinian healthcare system. The direct construction of the facility was completed in 1996, with it being officially transferred to the Palestinian National Authority in 1999 (Trivedi 93).

Naturally, the implementation of the described programs, as well as the attraction of the mentioned specialists, requuires significant expenditures on the part of the agency. The financing of the UNRWA is directly dependent on the voluntary donor investments. The primary contributors are the United States, and the member states of the European Union, namely the United Kingdom and Sweden. The ranks of the permanent financial investors also include the Arab Gulf countries, Japan, and Canada. A small amount of funding comes from the non-governmental organizations and individuals. The UN Secretariat allocates funds from its regular budget to finance the work of the international staff working at the UNRWA, while UNESCO and the World Health Organization provide specialists necessary for the implementation of the described education and health programs (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 60). Without doubt, the amount of investment and, therefore, the expected results depend on many related external factors. It primarily refers to the situation in the region and the world as a whole, as well as the exchange rate of the national currency against the U.S. dollar. It should be noted that the budget of the UNRWA and its expenditures are calculated in U.S. dollars. However, only four of the countries investors are implementing financial investments in this currency. They are the United States, Japan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. As a result, during the exchange operations, the elementary loss of funds often takes place (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 43).

In addition, it is important to note that the amount of financial contribution does not match the tempo of the natural population growth among the Palestine refugees (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 30). As a result, it has a negative impact on the volume of aid and the efficiency of the programs implemented by the UNRWA. The situation in the Middle East forces one to consider a number of different scenarios of the future work of the agency. The continued unrest, intensifying concerns about the security, the deterioration of the economic situation of the refugees, and the restrictions on freedom of movement of goods, services, and people have a direct effect on the activities of the UNRWA (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 75). Therefore, in the future, the agency may have experience new challenges related to the provision of assistance to Palestinian refugees.

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Moreover, the reduction in financial resources over the past few years has led to a decrease in the amount of the UNRWA’s international staff, while the number of refugees has increased significantly (Hanafi, Hilal, and Takkenberg 5). Regardless of the future scenarios, the agency has to face an increase in the volume of work and is in need of employees with specialized skills. In addition to its current functions, it may have to perform the new tasks, especially in such areas as the analysis of the political situation and the provision of legal advice, and logistical and administrative services. In turn, one may assume that the corresponding jobs will be in high demand at the agency in the future.


In conclusion, it is possible to say that the problem of the refugees continues to be a challenge for the international community. Naturally, the refugee-receiving states must fulfill their obligations to ensure their protection and promote a climate of tolerance towards the representatives of other nations. At the same time, the countries of origin of the refugees are obliged to prevent the actions resulting in a mass exodus of the population. However, reacting to this challenge is difficult without the help of the specialized organizations, such as the UNRWA. They allow meeting the majority of needs of the Palestinian refugees by implementing educational, healthcare, and social programs. Nevertheless, in the conditions of the decreased financing and the growing instability in the region covered by the agency, one may assume that its scope of activities and, therefore, its burden, will increase. This fact emphasizes the need to involve maximum contributors in the process of addressing the issue of Palestinian refugees to prevent the situation from reaching undesirable dimensions.

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