Strengthening the Data Systems and Capacities of the IDP Committee in Azerbaijan - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service

Strengthening the Data Systems and Capacities of the IDP Committee in Azerbaijan


Azerbaijan has one of the highest concentrations of internally displaced persons (IDPs) globally, currently comprising around 6.5% of the country’s overall population (658,793 individuals, 175,034 families).[1] Most IDPs have been living in protracted displacement since the first Nagorno-Karabakh War (from 1988 to 1994), with thousands more people newly displaced in the Second Karabakh War (in 2020), which ended with a ceasefire endorsed in a Trilateral Protocol. Research and analysis by the World Bank and the Government of Azerbaijan showed that despite much investment, IDPs still remain vulnerable, are more likely to be poor than non-IDPs, have worse living conditions and lower employment rates than the non-displaced, and rely heavily on state transfers as their main source of income.

Since 2020, conditions have evolved, creating opportunities for large-scale returns to the seven adjacent regions and Karabakh. The State Programme on the Great Return, launched in November 2022, aligns with Azerbaijan’s socioeconomic development priorities for 2022-2026. The program, emphasising development and long-term strategies, delegates significant responsibilities to the State Committee for the Affairs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons of the Republic of Azerbaijan (IDP Committee), primarily under Priority Area 3 (Returning the population and creating sustainable communities in the areas).

It is evident that progressing towards durable solutions for displaced people will take time to evolve for various reasons.


JIPS’ scoping mission

In response to a joint request from the IDP Committee and UNHCR Country Office in Azerbaijan, JIPS undertook a scoping mission from September 17 to 28, 2023. The mission aimed to review the IDP Committee’s functions and capacities related to data and analysis for the durable solutions response under the First State Program on the Great Return.[2] The goal was to identify and address gaps and needs, including technical, regulatory, systems, governance structures, and coordination.

For the duration of the scoping mission, the JIPS experts worked in the central offices of the IDP Committee, with extensive meetings and discussions with management and staff across different departments. Alongside bilateral meetings, JIPS facilitated a solutions data workshop with the heads of departments of the IDP Committee and UNHCR and participated in a workshop to provide feedback to the methodology of a qualitative data collection tool to inform the returns protocol. A very preliminary mapping of operational sources from NGOs and CSOs was done jointly with the participants of a second technical workshop facilitated by JIPS in Baku during the scoping mission. The IDP Committee also organised a visit and group discussion with IDPs at the Gobu Park-3 complex and the Qobu Settlement outside Baku.


5 Key recommendations

Recommendation 1: Strengthen IDP Committee Capabilities

Identify opportunities and gaps: Map existing indicators on IDPs, ensuring interoperability between sources, and engage regional authorities.

Create an IDP Statistical Bulletin: Develop a regular reporting mechanism consolidating indicators from administrative and statistical sources.

Enhance the credibility of the IDP Register: Conduct a quality review based on UNQAF, aligning with international standards, and clarify coordination roles.

Recommendation 2: Develop Vulnerability Measure

Agree on indicators and methodology: Create a vulnerability measure based on available indicators, applying it to all IDP sub-stocks.

Analyze historical data: Assess socio-economic profiles of IDPs, updating the vulnerability measure regularly for informed decision-making.

Recommendation 3: Improve Operational Data Collection

Identify operational data sources: Evaluate existing operational sources, ensuring coherence, quality, and relevance for IDP Committee operations.

Enhance granularity of data: Improve household-level data collection for nuanced understanding, overcoming group-focused approaches.

Expand data collection beyond housing conditions and benefits: Address blind spots, especially regarding access and analysis on land and property, improving overall data coherence and relevance.

Recommendation 4: Broaden Community Engagement

Develop a Communication Strategy: Establish a two-way communication flow, enhancing information accessibility for IDPs and external stakeholders.

Improve Data Tools for Intentions: Revise data collection tools against community participation principles.

Strengthen Community Participation: Facilitate roundtable discussions and revisit programs for urban and rural planning under the Great Return.

Create Job Opportunities Platform: Leverage existing data systems to build a multifunctional platform connecting IDP profiles with job opportunities.

Recommendation 5: Post-Return Assessment Pilot

Conduct a pilot assessment: Implement a pilot assessment in IDP returnee locations to inform support and monitor returnees.

Develop an area-based approach: Create a standardised area-based assessment for regular monitoring of sustainability in returnee locations, engaging stakeholders in the process.


JIPS’ Reflections on the information landscape on internal displacement

Before the scoping mission, JIPS conducted a preliminary mapping of the information landscape i.e. the data and analysis available on internal displacement in Azerbaijan. This was expanded with a technical workshop on internal displacement data with the IDP Committee and UNHCR, and a mapping of operational sources from NGOs and CSOs done jointly with the participants of a second technical workshop facilitated by JIPS in Baku during the scoping mission. One of the conclusions of the workshops was the need for a dedicated collaborative mapping of sources, tools, and methodologies of data on internal displacement – an idea that was welcomed by the IDP Committee, UNHCR, and NGOs.

Azerbaijan’s law on the status of refugees and internally displaced persons defines specific causes for internal displacement, with the IDP status linked to the place of displacement. The IDP Committee oversees self-registration, a crucial step for legal documentation and accessing assistance. Endowed with a legal mandate for IDP status decisions, the IDP Committee operates a robust tracking system through the IDP Register, a centralised database utilising administrative sources. This Register, with near-full IDP coverage, structured sourcing channels, and high interoperability, has the potential to serve as a credible and integrative source of IDP statistics in Azerbaijan.

Leveraging citizens’ Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), demographic profiles could in theory be triangulated with vulnerability indicators, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the actual conditions In displacement Influencing return intentions beyond binary responses. Acknowledging that unanalysed data remains short of Its potential to inform action, the IDP Committee sees the need for a holistic approach. “Data that is not analysed stays as a raw diamond”, as one senior manager at the IDP Committee voiced to JIPS. Further, uncertainties around status cessation conditions pose challenges in current intention surveys, highlighting the complexity of IDP dynamics in Azerbaijan.

The scoping mission also highlighted communication and participation gaps in planning for returns and integration. While existing structures efficiently inform IDPs about programs like the Great Return, they lack proactive community engagement, and the top-down planning of returns risk impeding meaningful participation by IDPs in decision-making processes and thus compromise sustainable returns.

Lastly, the need to expand vulnerability assessments and establish a return monitoring mechanism is emphasised. The vulnerability assessments, although prioritising families for return based on security, health and housing criteria, fall short in measuring progress towards durable solutions. There is a call for more comprehensive data on post-returns, socioeconomic reintegration, and social cohesion to enhance the effectiveness of return decisions and planning.



Overall, the observations from the scoping mission underscore the importance of aligning data collection with the practical needs of IDPs, ensuring inclusivity, and enhancing the strategic role of the IDP Committee for a more sustainable and informed approach to addressing internal displacement in Azerbaijan.

In addition to programmes supporting IDPs’ decision to return, such as income generating opportunities and availability of support services, the resettlement process under the Great Return programme will need to be voluntary and sequenced. It is a long-term process that needs a dynamic interface where actionable data on internal displacement from different sources – including statistical and operational data – can be accessed and interpreted holistically; timely and trusted information can be provided to different stakeholders for sustainable returns; and continuous monitoring of the process is ensured with a strong protection lens (focused on risks and vulnerabilities).

The IDP Committee is poised to play a strategic role in the coming years by capitalising on the IDP Register database, leveraging the high interoperability of state databases in Azerbaijan, and fortifying resources and expertise. Recognizing the necessity for evolution, there is an identified need to enhance the Committee’s capabilities in IDP statistics, analysis, and outreach. The committee’s transition from a focus on managing IDP status to a more comprehensive role in solutions is crucial for maintaining a continuum of data and evidence beyond status cessation. Additionally, coordinating IDP statistics within the National Statistical System, with the IDP Committee as custodian of the IDP Register, gains particular relevance in the context of the Great Return program, offering advantages in mitigating challenges of conflicting figures when done effectively.

We are commending the joint efforts by the IDP Committee and with support from UNHCR to have a critical view on their current structure, practices, and system to expand and improve an already robust system. We look forward to building upon the constructive input received during the scoping mission. Moving forward, we anticipate ongoing collaboration with government officials, humanitarian and development partners, civil society actors, and the affected communities in the subsequent phases of this initiative.


Interested in more detailed information on JIPS engagement in Azerbaijan? Contact us at


Need tools to implement your own durable solutions analysis or profiling process? Check out the Durable Solutions Indicator Library and JIPS Essential Toolkit (JET) websites, and reach out to us at


[1] Latest figures as of November 2023  provided to JIPS by the State IDP Committee of Azerbaijan.

[2] Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 16th November 2022.

Sign up to our newsletter

Email Format

JIPS – Joint IDP Profiling Service will use the information you provide on this form to send you email updates (usually once a month) about our activities.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect and will never share it with, or sell it to, others. By clicking 'SUBSCRIBE', you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking 'SUBSCRIBE' to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Get updates
Receive news about profiling practice and improving displacement data, right in your inbox.