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

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