UNRWA is an abbreviation for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA is a relief and human development agency, originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief for 652,000 Palestinian Arabs who fled or were expelled from Israel during the fighting that followed the end of the British mandate over Palestine. Today it provides education, health care, social services and emergency aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars and their descendants.

While refugees who fall under the mandate of UNHCR (which is every other refugee community in the world) loose their refugee status after they are resettled to a new country, Palestinian refugees are the only group of refugees who pass their refugee status to their descendants no matter what their condition of settlement under the UNRWA mandate.