Our History

The Arab-Israeli War of 1967 left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians homeless and impoverished. As various international entities struggled to respond, a small group of concerned Americans began working to provide immediate assistance to the victims of the conflict.

The result was the creation of American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera).

From these modest beginnings, Anera began decades of committed work responding to the critical needs of the Palestinian people and others caught in regional conflicts. For more about the earliest days, read "How Anera Came To Be" and "Recollections of Anera's Early Years."

Timeline of Highlights from Anera's History


Anera's Beginnings

FEBRUARY 21, 1968

Jim Sams—pictured with his wife, Betty—is the guiding spirit and genius behind Anera.

First Brochure

American Near East Refugee Aid, inc.


John Davis

John Davis (right) is Anera’s first president.

A vocational training sewing Anera sponsored in the West Bank.

Job Training

Anera grants scholarships for job training courses, at organizations like the Arab Women's Unions and Red Crescent Societies.


During the first decade, Anera supporters delivered relief supplies and medicines in Palestine, Lebanon and beyond. Anera also built up many small, local non-profits offering direct services to Palestinian refugees.


Supporting Local Organizations

Throughout the first decade, Anera donates equipment to local organizations, like the Al-Bir Society in Jericho, where students learn technical skills.


Rawdat El Zuhur

Partnership with Rawdat El Zuhur begins, with children receiving financial aid from Anera.

Palestinian refugee children in  Lebanon, 1968.

Reconstruction after the 1973 War

After the 1973 October War, Anera provides $2 million for reconstruction in Syria, Egypt, the West Bank and Gaza.


Rainwater Conservation

In Gaza, Anera assists in a project to direct large quantities of rainwater to a depleted aquifer.


Merger with American Middle East Rehabilitation (AMER)

Anera merges with American Middle East Rehabilitation (AMER), the oldest non-sectarian American relief agency aiding Palestinian refugees. From this merger, Anera’s Medical Committee was born. Pictured is AMER’s letterhead.


Nurses' Training

Anera starts supporting nurses’ training programs at Four Homes of Mercy, just outside of Jerusalem.


New Library for Hebron

Anera supports the construction of a new municipal library in Hebron.


New Logo

The Anera logo changes to this simpler style.


Ramallah Poultry Cooperative

Anera supports the establishment of a feed processing unit in the Ramallah Poultry Cooperative. In the picture, Henry Selz (left), Anera’s Middle East Representative from 1976 to 1986, is purchasing a chicken.


Palestine Polytechnic University

Anera assists the Hebron University Graduates Union in establishing the Palestine Polytechnique University.


Anera began to undertake more infrastructure work and income-producing development projects in order to strengthen the capacity of Palestinian cooperatives, municipalities, non-profits and health and education societies. Anera also delivered relief to victims of the war in Lebanon.


Improving Agricultural Infrastructure

In the West Bank throughout the 1980s, Anera provides funding to establish model dairies, feedlots and breeding centers for cattle and sheep, with the aim of improving hygiene conditions and animal husbandry practices.


Palestinian Nursing College

In 1980, Anera helps establish the only Palestinian four-year college of nursing, which continues to be the most important provider of nurses for Palestinian hospitals and clinics.


Helping Farmers

Throughout the 1980s, Anera funds heavy equipment, such as tractors and bulldozers, to help farmers clear land of rocks, level the ground, and plow deeply so they can increase the ground area available for cultivation.


Halhul Market

With Anera’s assistance, the Halhul Municipality finishes building a fruit and vegetable wholesale market, consisting of 22 warehouses which are promptly rented. It is the largest cold storage facility in the West Bank.


The Scholarship Program

Anera adds Al-Kafaàt Rehabilitation Institute in Beirut, a nonprofit helping people with disabilities, to the Scholarship Program, which began in 1979 with two schools in Jerusalem, Rawdat El Zuhur and Dar El Tifl.


Expanding our Reach

Anera’s Gaza office opens.


Supporting Technological Advancement

Even when computers are a relatively new phenomenon, Anera recognizes their importance and supports students in learning the latest technologies.


Smart Irrigation

Many Anera assisted projects are aimed at economizing on the quantity of water used in farming by promoting modern irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation (pictured).


Supporting Hospitals in the West Bank

The Hebron Patients’ Friends Society is one among many hospitals that Anera supports in the 1980s. Pictured (far right) is Anera’s president from 1978 to 2007, Peter Gubser.


Assistance for Olive Oil Projects

Anera’s assistance for olive oil projects reaches $550,000. Pictured is Tarqumia Olive Press Cooperative, West Bank.


Parasite Resistant Grapevines

When grapevines in Hebron and El-Khader are infested with a deadly parasite, Anera supports a project to replace the vines with parasite resistant ones


Despite and, in some cases, because of political upheaval and closures, Anera helped local Palestinian organizations, from dairies to agricultural cooperatives, to become more self-sufficient and profitable. We began giving loans to ntreprenuers, in Palestine and Lebanon, to create jobs. Lebanon was still in a state of war and donors responded with in-kind shipments of medicines and cash support for Lebanese relief organizations.


Relief after Intifadas

In-kind shipments are routinely put together in Anera’s small Washington office to be sent to the Middle East. During the first Intifada, Anera sends pharmaceutical products such as burn medicines and antibiotics to hospitals and clinics in the West Bank and Gaza.


Expanding the Scholarship Program

Anera begins its long partnership with Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza, which provides a whole range of vital services for deaf children and adults - from school to work.


25th Anniversary

Anera marks its 25th year of operation.


Small Loans Help Businesses in Lebanon and West Bank

From 1988 to 1993, Anera gives loans totaling nearly $1 million to Palestinian and Lebanese farmers, artisans and shopkeepers to generate employment.


Gaza Women's Loan Fund

In cooperation with many other organizations, Anera initiated the Gaza Women’s Loan Fund, providing small loans to help low-income women start or expand their own businesses. Pictured is a loan recipient who starts her own beauty shop.


Tom Neu, Middle East Representative from 1994-2007, visits the Society of the Physically Handicapped in Gaza, one of the recipients of Anera funds.


$2.5 million in Hospital Support

Over the course of the third decade, Anera provides more than $2.5 million in resources to hospitals and clinics throughout the West Bank and Gaza. A portion of the funding is also dedicated to training medical professionals.


Music Education

A cello student at Rawdat El-Zuhur in Jerusalem practices. His teacher is from the National Conservatory of Music (renamed the Edward Said National Conservatory in 2004).


Supporting Agriculture Cooperatives in the West Bank

The Nablus agricultural cooperative is one of many cooperatives that receives funding from Anera in the 1990s to improve their food processing capability and marketing techniques.


New Medical Library in Gaza

Anera provides funds to build a medical library at the Al-Ahli Arabi Hospital in Gaza.


Anera Board Visits the Middle East

Anera Board members visit projects in the West Bank and Gaza. This photo is of the travelers with Gaza office staff members.


Building Spaces for Light Industry

In four Palestinian towns, Anera helps municipalities build light industrial complexes to remove polluting industries from town centers and create jobs. For each project, Anera shares the cost of construction and provides engineering, managerial and technical assistance.


Loans for Fishermen

Anera cooperates with the Al Tawfeeq Association in implementing loans for fishermen. The project is funded by IFAD and 186 fishermen make imporvements to their boats and businesses.


Partnership with the National Conservatory of Music

Anera begins partnering with the National Conservatory of Music in the West Bank to help fill the void in music education.


Anera Board visits the Middle East

Board members visit Anera projects in the Middle East.


This decade was the golden age of USAID funding for Anera’s work, in terms of the sheer range and diversity of projects supported in Palestine and Lebanon. During these years, Anera also expanded its public health and water and sanitation programming. New offices opened in Beirut and Amman.


Medical Donations

This brave little patient is all patched up at the Orthodox Society Clinic in Jerusalem - one of 35 hospitals and clinics that receives health care supply donations in 2000 alone.

Community Services Program

Community Services Program starts in Gaza and the Jordan Valley, funded with $5.1 million from USAID.


Beitin Warehouse

Anera's Beitin Warehouse in Ramallah opens to handle the increasing volume of donated medicines and health care supplies.


Food Distribution during the Second Intifada

Anera's staff faciliates 18 convoys of urgently needed goods to people in Jenin, Bethlehem, Hebron, Gaza, and other Palestinian communities.


Supporting Technological Excellence

Anera begins construction of the first of five IT Centers of Excellence in the West Bank and Gaza. By 2008, four centers are completed.


Emergency Water and Sanitation (EWAS)

With $16.8 million in funding from USAID Anera starts EWAS, addressing urgent water needs and sewage problems in the West Bank and Gaza. The program generates thousands of good jobs. These workers are digging a rainwater collection cistern.


2006 Lebanon War

The 34-day war in Lebanon displaces nearly 1 million civilians. Anera staff in the new Beirut office act quickly and, with help from partner organizations, deliver $6 million in essential items to thousands of people.


Creative Health Campaign

Anera begins partnering with many local organizations on the Creative Health Campaign in Lebanon, which makes healthy living fun through interactive educational materials and events. These activities are joyous bright spots in the otherwise gloomy atmosphere of Lebanon’s refugee camps.


Record Year for Delivery of Donated Supplies

At the beginning of Anera’s fourth decade the value of in kind donations totaled $1.2 million. By the end of the decade it is $57.1 million. Donations range from wheelchairs and life-saving medicines to school kits and rubber gloves.


Responsible Tourism

In Lebanon, Anera supports the DHIAFFEE program which promotes responsible tourism and stimulates jobs in rural areas. This inn owner serves fresh organic produce.


Constructing Classrooms in the West Bank

Anera constructed 53 new classrooms in 14 schools, impacting nearly 5,000 students in 16 communities across the West Bank.


40th Anniversary

Anera commemorates 40 years of commitment to the Middle East.


Rebuilding Nahr El Bared Community Center

Beit Atfal Assamoud Community Center and the Mary Affifi playground are renovated in Nahr El Bared, Lebanon. The reopening of the center, which is the first such community-geared facility to be rehabilitated in the camp, is a milestone for the families who have returned and are still struggling to rebuild their homes and lives 17 months after the end of the fighting.


MARAM Program Starts

The MARAM project (USAID-funded) provides training, public health awareness programs, equipment, and medicines through clinics, hospitals and outreach programs in the West Bank and Gaza.


35th Anniversary

Anera’s 35th year culminates a five-year campaign, raising $15 million.


Providing Fuel for Learning

Anera’s Milk for Preschoolers program begins providing vitamin-rich milk and biscuits to children in Gaza.


Jericho Public Library

Anera, in coordination with the Municipality of Jericho, constructs the Jericho Public Library, built in the shape of an open book and offering modern facilities (USAID funded).


Evaluating Preschool Education in Gaza

"The Evaluation of the Quality of Preschool Education in Gaza – a needs assessment carried out by a team of educators from Islamic University and Anera staff – is presented at a meeting of early childhood education stakeholders in Gaza."


USAid Water Projects

At this village in Gaza, Anera extends the water network so that all the households have running water. This is only one example of hundreds of water projects funded by USAID over the course of more than a decade.


Relief for Iraqi Refugees

In Jordan, Anera facilitates the smooth and proper integration of Iraqi children into Jordanian public schools and delivers physical and psychosocial support to children in poor communities.


The Hanan Project

Anera completes Hanan, a three year, USAID funded project in the West Bank and Gaza aimed at improving the access of women of reproductive age and children under five to quality maternal and child health and nutrition services.


Gaza Chickens Project

Anera's distributes ten chickens, feed, and a cage to 550 families to be used for food and income generation.

Rawdat El Zuhur Dabkeh Troupe Visit to DC

The award-winning dabkeh troupe from Rawdat El Zuhur elementary school in Jerusalem performs at the Annual Dinner. The eight boys and girls, ranging in age from 9 to 11, go on special tours of the White House and Congress and do all kinds of other fun things on their first visit to the United States.


Breast Cancer Awareness

Anera reaches out to thousands of men and women in the West Bank and in the camps of Jordan to educate about breast cancer and the importance of early detection


War Destruction: Operation Cast Lead

With the bombing that begins on December 22, 2008, no place is safe for civilians in Gaza. To respond to the crisis, Anera distributes $4 million in medicines and other health care supplies to clinics and hospitals throughout Gaza. Anera also distributes $1.4 million in food to families in Rafah, Khan Younis and Gaza City.


Investing in Education

Anera renovates 33 preschools in Gaza in the 2009-2010 academic year


Throughout Palestine, Anera helped hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with infrastructure for water and sanitation networks, schools, community centers and public markets. Our work in Lebanon expanded dramatically with the influx of refugees from Syria. And, Anera donors responded with humanitarian relief for Gaza in the wake of three devastating wars and a decade-long blockade on imports/exports.



In partnership with Al Quds and Johns Hopkins universities, Anera conducts bi-weekly education sessions (called Telemedicine) for medical practicioners in the West Bank and Gaza who want to gain access to the most recent developments in medicine, as presented by Johns Hopkins faculty. Themes range from diagnosing common conditions to surgical treatments for advanced illnesses


Connecting Families to Water

400 families are connected to water networks – a project funded through private donations.


Pianos for Gaza

Two pianos are delivered to the Gaza Music School to replace one which was destroyed by bombs


Summer Camps for Kids!

2,000 children attend Anera-sponsored summer camps in Gaza.


Careers in Nursing

Anera starts promoting nursing as a viable profession for Palestinian youth with the support of the Order of Nurses in Lebanon.

Anera Gaza staffer Sami helps children get water from a tank Anera set up in their Gaza community.
Anera Gaza staffer Sami helps children get water from a tank Anera set up in their Gaza community after the 2014 bombardment.

Responding After the Bombardment of Gaza

Thanks to a dedicated and generous community of donors, Anera’s Gaza staff was able to respond immediately to the devastating bombings in Gaza. Read more.

A preschooler poses in front of Dora the Explorer in his new preschool.

Anera Takes the Lead in Early Childhood Development

The 2010s is the decade when Anera spearheads the development of the preschool sector in Palestine. We renovate or build over 10% of Palestinian preschools, train hundreds of teachers and work with thousands of parents. Read about our ECD work.

Walajeh village in Area C gets its first health clinic.

Anera Builds Clinic in Area C

Walajeh village in Area C gets its first health clinic. The residents in the area used to have to rely on a small and inadequate mobile clinic. 

A Palestinian woman uses tap water from the rehabilitated water well in Beit Hanoun

A Well in Beit Hanoun

The well of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, one of the oldest serving over 10,000 people, was urgently in need of rehabilitation after being damaged during the 2014 war. Anera, with funding from IRUSA, successfully improved its capacity, quality, and efficiency, now producing more than double the previous amount of water on a daily basis.


Home Gardens

Anera starts the home-gardening project with 35 families, who are now able to grow their own fresh produce to eat and to sell for extra income.


TOMS Shoes for Gaza

A new shipment arrives in Gaza filled with shoes donated by TOMS Shoes. Anera collects thank-you messages for our online audience for TOMS


Medical Donations Reach New Record

The medical donation program has its biggest year ever. 51 shipments of donated supplies and medicines are delivered across Palestine and Lebanon


I want to be...

West Bank kids express their hopes for the future


Palestinian Community Infrastructure Development

From 2013 to 2018, Anera implements the USAID-funded Palestinian Community Infrastructure Development Program (PCID) to increase Palestinians’ access to water and sanitation.

Girls playing soccer on the soccer field Anera renovated in the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp, part of the sports for peace and development program.

Anera Renovates Sports Field

Girls playing on the soccer field Anera renovated in the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp, part of our sports for peace and development program in Lebanon.

The Challenges a Syrian Refugee Faces in Lebanon

Many refugee teens in Lebanon, like 16-year-old Sami from Syria, find themselves unable to attend school in Lebanon because they have to work long hours to help provide for their families.


Taking Dental Care to Lebanon's Camps

Refugee children learn about dental health through initiative to boost Palestine health care.

Odai grows alfalfa crops on his farm in Jenin, using recycled wastewater.

Making Wastewater Usable

In Jenin and Ramallah, West Bank, Anera made cleaned wastewater usable for irrigation and for municipal purposes like firefighting.


Anera's New Brand

In commemoration of 50 years of impactful programs with Palestinian refugees and vulnerable communities across Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Anera has a new logo and brand story. But we have the same mission!