Jul 14, 2020

UNRWA - Mobilizing collective action in a challenging world

Kayleigh Shooter
3 min
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We take a closer look at UNRWA, a relief and works agency who were featured in our April magazine...

 UNRWA is a UN agency created in December 1949 to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. The UNRWA definition of “refugee” covers Palestinian who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine War. UNRWA also provides assistance, but not refugee status, to those who fled or were expelled during and following the 1967 Six-Day War. They also apply refugee status to their patrilineal descendants. Originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, today UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports. 

UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.

UNRWA partners with businesses and foundations, ranging from small local tech companies to large multinationals; they tailor each partnership to make the best use of our partner's expertise and ensure mutual benefit. They also work closely with small community-based organizations and with international NGOs, drawing on their unique resources and strengths to deliver effective services for Palestine refugees.

The agency has recently signed an agreement with the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) that aims to enhance livelihood and human development opportunities for Palestine refugees in Gaza. The agreement will also enable the UNICC to benefit from the capabilities of UNRWA in the areas of ICT technical capacity augmentation, ICT end-to-end solution delivery, and ICT operation and maintenance support. 

Kaan Cetinturk, UNRWA CIO and Director of Information Management and Technology Department, on the partnership: “Through this joint project, young and skilled Palestine refugees will be able to contribute to the digital transformation of the UN in the IT domain without the restrictions of geographic borders.”

In addition, Mr Sameer Chauhan, Director of UNICC added: “This agreement will strengthen the UNICC capacity to deliver reliable ICT services driven by best practices. With its world-class technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure, together with the vast cross-domain experience of its very knowledgeable staff, ICC is always ready to offer UN-friendly shared solutions to United Nations organizations and international institutions with similar missions and value.”

It is well known that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a detrimental impact on the most vulnerable in our society. UNRWA are committed to not letting this happen to the Palestinian refugees. 

UNRWA has worked tirelessly throughout the outbreak and are holding a flash appeal. Japan recently contributed US$289,319 to UNRWA Jordan in response to the appeal. The contribution allows the Agency to address the emerging health needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan and ensure the continuity of The Government of Japan is a dedicated donor to UNRWA, having supported the Agency since 1953. 

With the enduring support of donors like the Government of Japan, the Agency is able to provide vital services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East in the face of its continuing challenges with provision of essential health care services to Palestine refugees through 25 UNRWA health centres across the country. 

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