Displacement in UNECE work session on migration 

Sharing the work of the EGRIS on both refugee and IDP statistics

30 – 31 October 2017 – The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Eurostat organised a joint work session on migration statistics under the auspices of the Conference of European Statisticians (CES). JIPS and UNHCR jointly presented the work of the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS) to raise awareness of the importance to include displacement in the discussion on migration and share lessons learned and recommendations.

UNECE work session on migration (Oct 2017)

The work session, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, aimed to provide a space for countries to exchange experiences on methods and techniques used for the collection, processing, use and dissemination of data related to international migration statistics. It also sought to help improve the measurement of the size, characteristics, and impact of international migration in the UNECE region and beyond.

Against the background of a rapid increase of numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in recent years, and in the light of new data sources and patterns of migration, there is a need to align statistics on displacement and migration. The potential for alignment should be looked into both to describe movements within and between countries.

Migrants, IDPs, and refugees and asylum-seekers

Migration can take on various forms – short- or long-term, across borders or within a country, etc. While administrative data are increasingly available, it remains a challenge to obtain comparable and consistent statistics between countries. These issues are also relevant in the case of forcibly displaced populations.

As Kimberly Roberson (FICSS/UNHCR) and Dag Roll-Hansen (JIPS) explained in their presentation on the work of the EGRIS, other than for migration there currently is no international guidance on how to make statistics on IDPs, refugees or asylum-seekers. In addition, only a few countries produce official statistics on IDPs. Some of the issues countries may face relate to capacity constraints, a lack of ownership of displacement statistics by national statistical systems, or challenges linked to the collection, compilation and dissemination of statistics on these forcibly displaced populations.

Kimberly Roberson (UNHCR) and Dag Roll-Hansen (JIPS)

Existing data collection processes, such as censuses, surveys, registers and civil registration systems, could in the future include data on IDPs, refugees and asylum-seekers. However, data on forcibly displaced populations are sensitive; and confidentiality and protection of these data is critical.

Additional challenges to produce IDP and refugee statistics

Even where official statistics are available, a number of other challenges can be observed, including:

  • Different statistical definitions are being used making it difficult to compare the data between countries, across displacement situations within countries or to host populations.
  • Existing quality frameworks, such as the UN Fundamental Principles of Statistics or the European Statistics Code of Practice, provide valuable guidance on how to make good statistics, but are rarely applied.
  • There is a lack of coordination between different actors producing statistics on IDPs, including government bodies, humanitarian and development actors. However, coordination is essential to produce consistent and comparable statistics.
  • Existing statistics are often based on operational data, i.e. result from data collection undertaken by organisations assisting IDPs, often only providing a partial picture of a displacement situation in a country. Efficient and integrated information systems that can serve both administrative and official statistics needs are not common.

The EGRIS was initiated in 2015 and, attempting to provide input to respond to these challenges, its members have elaborated two reports:

  • A report and recommendations on refugee statistics; and
  • A technical report taking stock of current statistics and sharing recommendations towards a coherent framework on IDP statistics.

The reports build on evidence from various countries and regions. The IDP subgroup is co-lead by JIPS together with Statistics Norway and IDMC, with support from UNHCR and the World Bank. Country members include Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Kosovo, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the Philippines, Somalia, Uganda, and Ukraine.

The road ahead

The EGRIS is aiming for a phased approach when assisting countries to improve their IDP statistics. The work will be done in close collaboration with national statistical authorities as well as relevant regional and international organisations. The following next steps are currently planned:

  • Global consultations from 10th November to 10th December 2017, facilitated by the UN Statistical Division and inviting countries to comment on the two reports;
  • Reports to be adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in March 2018
  • A Compilers’ Manual to be developed and adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in 2019
  • A capacity-building strategy and related implementation plan to be elaborated
  • Internationally comparable indicators to be developed relating to the SDGs and durable solutions



- Eurostat brochure on EGRIS
- UNSC EGRIS side event: progress update (March 2017)
- EGRIS - First meeting in Copenhagen (Nov 2016)
- #EGRIS second working meeting of all members (Apr 2017)
Developing recommendations on official IDP statistics (Aug 2017)

Tags: News, EGRIS