Scope and relevance:
The registration records are the basis of UNRWA's operations and form an
important base for many types of research. The Unified Registration System
(URS) makes it possible to join economic, demographic, and other data about
individual UNRWA refugees. It is recommended that UNRWA implement efforts
to link its registration records to its data about health and education.
Such an effort would increase the research value of UNRWA data significantly,
as it would improve both their relevance, scope and access. The Social Study
Report represent one promising prototype for how such a link-up may be made.
An expansion of this system to cover all the registered refugees would enhance
the opportunities for research on the Palestine refugees.
The validity of the registration records is related to the problem of classification,
i.e. which criteria a person should fulfil to be defined as a "Palestine
Refugee". A discussion of these criteria is beyond this study, and
validity of the registration records are thus not discussed. The reliability
of the records is related to the registration system and has been discussed
here. There is reason to believe that the reliability has improved since
UNRWA ceased to distribute rations to all registered refugees, but it may
be improved further if a system for routine capture of "changes"
such as births, deaths, and moving is implemented. Regarding the Special
Hardship Cases, questions on the Social Study Report regrettably do not
seem to adhere to international standards for economic activity17. Coherence
with international standards would improve the research value of the data.
Access to the registration records is limited to aggregated tables by age
and sex on the Field level. The research value would be improved if computerized
tables of registered refugees on an Area and camp level were accessible.
Intimidating the integrity of refugees and/or host countries could be avoided
by anonymization procedures and by requiring permissions to access these
data. In that case standardized procedures and forms for application for
research permissions should be introduced.
International Labour Office (1990) Survey of Economically Active
Population, Employment and Underemployment Geneva:ILO