The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established to provide assistance to Palestine refugees. The UNRWA defined a Palestinian refugee as someone who was normally resident in Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, and who lost their home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.

UNRWA also classifies the descendants of Palestine refugees as Palestine refugees. All Palestine refugees who are registered with UNRWA and are in need of assistance are eligible for help from UNRWA. In 2001, there were 3.8 million registered Palestine refugees for which the UNRWA provides services out of an absolute number of about 8 millions.

UNRWA provides facilities in 59 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip is generally considered to be occupied territories. Together these camps house approximately one-third of all registered Palestinian refugees. It also provides facilities in other areas where large numbers of registered Palestine refugees live outside of recognized camps. In order for a camp to be recognized by UNRWA, there must be an agreement between the host government and UNRWA governing use of the camp.

Services provided by UNRWA include health care, schools, and distribution of food and clothing aid.

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