Under UNRWA’s (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) operational definition, Palestinian refugees are people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. Today more than 5 million Palestinians live as refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom still live in overcrowded refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

UNRWA’s services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. The descendants of the original Palestine refugees are also eligible for registration. When the Agency started working in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services. UNRWA is the main provider of basic services – education, health, relief and social services – to 5 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East.

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