Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2020.
UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees and its contributions to the protection, welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees. Originally envisaged as a temporary organization, the Agency has gradually adjusted its programmes to meet the changing needs of the refugees. Today, UNRWA is the main direct provider of basic services - education, health, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance to over 5.5 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East. UNRWA is the largest UN operation in the Middle East with more than 30,000 staff and is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donor states and other strategic partnerships.