"UNRWA at 60" : A concept paper - Paying tribute to six decades of service and achievements



On 8 December 2009, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, will be sixty years old: an occasion for sober reflection but also an opportunity to highlight the Agency's service and achievements during ees. The anniversary presents UNRWA with a chance tosix decades of work alongside millions of refug reposition itself among development and humanitarian actors in the Middle East and transmit some powerful messages about the contribution - past and future - that the Agency has and will make to the prosperity and stability of the region. It provides an opportunity to enter into renewed efforts for resource mobilization to fulfill

While it would be inappropriate to 'celebrate' a 60-year anniversary ituse this historic date to emphasize the importantwould be useful for the agency and its stakeholders to contribution it has made and continues to make to four generations of Palestine refugees. UNRWA will use its 60th anniversary to shape a more appropriate perception of the Agency while carrying a clear political message: six decades of dispossession must end.

To mark the anniversary, UNRWA will oversee, manage and stimulate a variety of activities and events that encourage and allow the full participation of refugees, host authorities, donors, NGOs, local populations and others. The events and activities will continue to unfold throughout the period September 2008 - June 2010, covering a range of issues from children, youth, education, health, relief, social services and micro-finance. Preparations for this initiative began in June 2008.

UNRWA's efforts will also be directed to build on and broaden its existingrces for the benefit of the Palestine refugeedonor base and secure urgently needed financial community. Each department, field office, UNRWA installation, donor and host country has the opportunity to contribute to UNRWA's 60th anniversary by organizing or branding events under the "UNRWA at 60" umbrella. Special events will be conducted at the United Nations in New York, Vienna, and Geneva, at the EC in Brussels, the League of Arab States, host countries, in the Gulf States and in donor countries. UNRWA will mark its anniversary throughout the world by launching information and PR campaigns, hosting academic and artistic events and with the launch of major publications on Palestine refugee issues associated with UNRWA's events for Palestine refugees, children, youth,mandate. The organizing women, host government partners, donors and policy makers aims at raising the awareness of Palestine refugees and UNRWA's mandate and necessary role.


UNRWA has developed this concept paper in cooperation with the WolfGroup Consultants. The paper introduces the rationale and ambitions for the project, the key messages, desired outcomes and objectives, and outlines the projects that will be developed. The "UNRWA at 60" initiative was conceived at the June 2008 UNRWA Advisory Commission meeting in Damascus. Pending donor pledges and commitments, its implementation will begin in November 2008 and continue through June 2010. The final phase of the initiative will permit the "UNRWA at 60" initiative will be to consolidate its results, learning, and transition them back into the existing UNRWA structures over the course of 2010.

The "UNRWA at 60" initiative will be presented to donors and stakeholders on a number of occasions throughout the month of November 2008.

The project descriptions in this paper illustrate the inter-linkages between the projects that will be showcased in special events in Brussels, New York, Geneva, Vienna and in the region. The commemoration will stage a series of events, putting refugees themselves, and the people who worked with- and alongside- the agency as the focal point. "UNRWA at 60" will highlight that its achievements are a product of the efforts of all stakeholders and that we achieve results in synchrony between refugees, host countries and donors, aligned by the mandate of UNRWA. This series intends to culminate in a major pledging conference attempting to close a long-standing funding gap the agency has faced. Addressing this funding gap would concretely improve quality and access to UNRWA services, in turn fostering human security, development and to maintain stability in the region. The services and presence of the Agency must be framed as an indispensable and complementary contribution to the regional and international efforts for peace. UNRWA sees the 60-year anniversary in 2009-2010 as a unique chance to further strengthen relations with its target population while maintaining, building and extending its partnerships.


- In the field of health, UNRWA has achieved a near one hundred per cent inoculation record and infant mortality rates have dropped from 160 per 1,000 births in the 1960s to 22 per 1,000 by 2006. This exceeds the World Health Organization target for middle-income countries. Communicable diseases have largely been eradicated.

- UNRWA also runs a health care program mainly through its 134 Primary Health Care Centers, staffed by some 4,200 health workers. The annual number of patient visits is currently at 9.5 million. Senior staff for the management of UNRWA's Health programme are me implementation.provided by WHO and WHO standards guide program Social Services address over 255,000 special hardship cases, operate 65 women's throughout its five areas of operations.centres and 39 Community Rehabilitation Centers

- In education, UNRWA's record is impressive. To give just one example, today it has doubled. 60 years after its establishment,in 1951 the proportion of female pupils was 26 per cent: UNRWA provides education to nearly 500,000 pupils enrolled in its 684 schools, employs 22,000 educational staff at an average cost of US $500 per pupil per year or US $45 per month. UNESCO provides for senior staff for UNRWA's Education program and standards tation of this program. The vast majority ofof UNESCO are followed through the implemen graduates from its vocational training centers (with the exception of Gaza) find employment within a year.

- UNRWA's Micro-finance and Micro-enterprise Programme has over the past 18hese regions and is now financing 24,000years financed 157,000 loans worth USD 169 million in t loans worth over USD 30 million each year. The programme is a fully sustainable micro-finance operation that now meets the full costs of its business from its operating income. It is the largest micro-finance service provider in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and the second largest micro-finance institution in Syria.

- In total UNRWA employs over 29,000 Palestinian staff and about 120 internationals.

- Today, out of over 4.8 million refugees, 1.4 million reside in the 58 refugee camps across the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The refugee camps in which UNRWA operates generally resemble urban slum areas elsewhere in the region, though in 2005 the Agency launched an ambitious camp improvement scheme.


- Through 60 years of service UNRWA, with support from the International community and in partnership with Host Countries, has positively transformed the lives of millions of Palestine refugees and their communities.

- UNRWA has come of age. A strong and financially stable UNRWA is in the interests of everyone who believes in human development and peace.

- UNRWA's sixtieth birthday is a reminder that a just and lasting relevant United Nations Resolutions is sixty years overdue. Peace and Stability is in the interest of all parties and needs to become reality.

- Palestine refugees must be given the choices granted by International Law to all refugees. This should be achieved within the context of a just and durable solution in consultation with the refugees and the relevant parties.

- Looking forward, UNRWA remains determined to unreservedly fulfill its mandate - its programs and services play a significant role as a force for human development, moderation and peace.


- Advocate for Palestine refugees and UNRWA

- Maintain and Mobilize sustained additional resources from the traditional donor base and recruit new donors.

- Contribute to the enhancement of UNRWA's Public Information and External Relations capacity.

- To achieve these objectives UNRWA will undertake a broad range of activities from research to refugee community activities, public events and participation in official meetings of the UNGA, EU, League of Arab States, and host authorities. To bolster this, UNRWA will approach donors and host authorities to provide airtime on their public TV channels, post supplementary ads in their main newspapers and to host events.