It also provided relief to Jewish and Arab Palestine refugees inside the state of Israel following the 1948 conflict until the Israeli government took over responsibility for Jewish refugees in 1952. 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 2017.
UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR. Formed in 1950, UNHCR is the main UN refugee agency, which is responsible for aiding other refugees all over the world. Unlike UNRWA, UNHCR has a specific mandate to aid its refugees to eliminate their refugee status by local integration in current country, resettlement in a third country or repatriation when possible. UNRWA allows refugee status to be inherited by descendants.
UNRWA was established following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War by the United Nations General Assembly under Resolution 302(IV) of 8 December 1949. This resolution reaffirmed paragraph 11, concerning refugees, of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), adopted and passed unopposed, supported by Israel and the Arab states, with only the Soviet bloc and South Africa abstaining. UNRWA is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly and its mandate is renewed every three years.
Palestine refugees are defined as "persons whose regular place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict."