The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is the unique international system set up in response to one of the largest refugee crises of the twentieth century: that of the Palestinians. Established in 1949 by the United Nations General Assembly, UNRWA’s mandate is to carry out direct relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees. In this lecture, HIP and Dr. Anne Irfan (Oxford University) will provide an overview of how Palestinians are positioned within the UN refugee system, highlight the unique features of UNRWA, as well as examine the broader implications of the Palestinian experience to the international refugee regime today.
Anne Irfan is Departmental Lecturer in Forced Migration at the University of Oxford, where she is part of the Refugee Studies Centre. Her research examines Palestinian refugee history and its intersection with international politics, resistance, and nationalism. Her work on these subjects has been published in the Journal of Refugee Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies, Contemporary Levant and Forced Migration Review. In recent years, Dr. Irfan has spoken on UNRWA, Palestinian refugees and the Syrian crisis at the UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva, and the UK Parliament in Westminster. She has also contributed articles on these subjects to The Washington Post, The Conversation and Jadaliyya. Dr Irfan is a member of the ARDD Global Network of Experts on the Question of Palestine, and a participant in the Academic Friends of UNRWA Working Group.