For millions of people living in humanitarian crisis, education can confer physical and psychological protection and offer a path to a brighter future. Overshadowing this promise, however, are the unavoidable politics of humanitarianism. In this historical case study of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East during the First Intifada (1987–1993), Jo Kelcey shows how the agency’s ostensibly apolitical humanitarian education program was in fact shaped by competing political interests. This case highlights both the impossibility of apolitical education programs and the unforeseen consequences of humanitarian framings for education, ultimately underscoring the need to critically reflect on the value of aligning education to humanitarian discourse and practice.

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