What We Do

Emergency Response

Over the past 60 years, UNRWA has always taken action to mitigate the effects of emergencies on the lives of Palestine refugees.

Emergency Response Services

Drawing on years of expertise, a vast operational capacity and the mission of its original mandate, UNRWA is able to provide quick and responsive support to Palestine refugees in need. Assistance provision is context-specific and based on urgent humanitarian needs. The package of assistance may include, but not be limited to, the following interventions:

Food aid

To ensure basic food security in times of crisis, the Agency provides emergency food aid to isolated and vulnerable Palestine refugees through its existing food distribution networks.

Water and sanitation

To control outbreaks of water-borne diseases and infections such as diarrhoea, cholera and hepatitis, the Agency ensures access to safe drinking water. The repair and construction of sewerage systems and storm water drainage, disease vector-control services and other services combat the spread of diseases related to sanitation and hygiene.

Temporary shelter

When Palestine refugee homes are destroyed or damaged, whether as a consequence of violent conflict, forced displacements, or demolitions, UNRWA provides temporary shelters or shelter support to accommodate displaced refugees. This may include the allocation of blankets, emergency cooking utensils and other basic relief items.

Emergency cash assistance

The provision of cash assistance is a quick and flexible mechanism to address the most immediate and urgent needs of vulnerable refugees in crisis. By allowing conflict-affected civilians to independently determine and meet their respective essential priorities, short-term cash assistance boosts individual coping strategies and enables refugees to allocate scarce financial resources to their own household priorities.  Payment of relocation-related expenses enables displaced families whose shelters are damaged during military operations to find temporary, alternative accommodation.

Cash for work

Job creation is a key tool for providing emergency support to poor families who have lost their livelihoods due to conflict and crises. The Agency generates short-term skilled and unskilled jobs, with particular attention paid to vulnerable groups such as women, young people and people with disabilities. These opportunities alleviate poverty and restore dignity while contributing to community recovery and protection.

Emergency education

Guided by an education in emergencies strategy, the Agency endeavours to ensure that safe, quality education is accessible to all students and that measures are taken to address the safety, protection, learning, health and psychosocial needs of students during an emergency, including through the provision of remedial classes and counselling services.

Emergency health services 

In emergencies, UNRWA is often the last-resort provider of primary health-care services. With 144 clinics situated in close proximity to Palestine refugees, UNRWA is well placed to respond to increasing needs. Additional staff and supplies are often required to ensure basic health care is provided. In areas to which access is restricted in the West Bank, the Agency deploys mobile health clinics to provide health services, including mental health services, to isolated and vulnerable Palestine refugees,


During the humanitarian recovery phase, in the aftermath of violence and destruction, UNRWA may help to repair and rebuild damaged or destroyed homes of Palestine refugees within Palestine refugee camps. The refugees themselves are always actively engaged in this process, which also provides them with temporary job opportunities in the construction sector and related trades.