Human Development Goals

The United Nations describes human development in the following terms: “Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices. Enlarging people’s choices is achieved by expanding human capabilities…. At all levels of development the three essential capabilities for human development are for people to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable and to have a decent standard of living. If these basic capabilities are not achieved, many choices are simply not available and many opportunities remain inaccessible. But the realm of human development goes further: essential areas of choice, highly valued by people, range from political, economic and social opportunities for being creative and productive to enjoying self-respect, empowerment and a sense of belonging to a community.”

Following this definition, UNRWA has identified four human development goals as the focus of the Agency’s operations:

knowledge and skills

  • We operate one of the largest school systems in the Middle East, teaching nearly half a million children in over 700 schools
  • UNRWA has been the main provider of primary education to Palestine refugees for 60 years
  • We provide vocational training for young people to help them gain work skills

long and healthy lives

  • We deliver basic health services through a network of primary health care facilities and mobile clinics
  • We provide preventive, general medical and specialist care tailored for each stage of life
  • UNRWA constantly works toward a healthy living environment for Palestine refugees

decent standards of living

  • We provide social protection services, concentrating efforts on the poorest Palestine refugees
  • We provide basic food supplies and cash subsidies, as well as emergency cash grants and adequate shelter, for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees
  • We are constantly working on improving the physical and social environment in Palestine refugee camps, using a community-driven planning approach
  • We provide income-generating opportunities through our Microfinance department
  • When necessary, UNRWA takes action to mitigate the effects of emergencies on Palestine refugees’ lives

human rights

  • Achievement of the first three development goals relies on the fourth: ensuring that human rights are enjoyed to the fullest
  • UNRWA works to safeguard and advance the rights of Palestine refugees by ensuring quality services reach vulnerable communities and individuals
  • Through protection interventions, we address the root causes of abuse or neglect of beneficiary rights and highlight the urgent need for a just and durable solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees
  • In Gaza and the West Bank, the Operations Support Officer programme monitors, documents and intervenes with the authorities and other stakeholders on incidents where Palestine refugees’ rights have been infringed