Key Issues

Roles and Responsibilities

Registration and documentation of displaced persons is the responsibility of the national authorities. However, UN agencies, NGOs and Camp Management Agencies may play an operational role in the planning, gathering and use of data, depending on national capacity, mandates and roles.

Depending on the context, the Camp Management Agency is often involved in procedures related to the continuous update of the camp's registration data and its ongoing relevance.

Refugee Situation

Refugee registration activities are led by the government and/ or UNHCR. These activities can be supported by the Camp Management Agency and various other actors on the ground who are providing humanitarian assistance. UNHCR has established that identity documents are best when issued by the government, often with UNHCR's support. Entitlement documents are usually issued by various service providers. Camp Management Agencies can play a role in harmonising the various requirements of entitlement documents among service providers so as to reduce costs and to ensure more efficient monitoring of overall needs and assistance responses.

Registration data should be continuously updated to reflect the changes in the refugees’ lives, including births, deaths, departures or changes in refugee status. The Camp Management Agency has a role in ensuring that information related to changes is channeled appropriately and data are kept updated.

Additional data gathering exercises should be coordinated carefully and in advance with the government and/or UNHCR, as well as all partners involved in the camp so as to reduce overlaps and maximise the exercise's result for service providers.

IDP Registration

National authorities are primarily responsible for ensuring that IDP registration takes place. When there is a national framework for managing and identifying IDPs, procedures for camp registration should be foreseen within the framework. In its absence, at a minimum level of registration, such as at the household level, registration is required for accountability purposes to plan and monitor assistance delivery and interventions. In such cases, the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency is responsible for ensuring that registration takes place in the camp, in cooperation with national authorities. However, in some situations, the Camp Management Agency may need to undertake registration activities or drive the process forward.

Documentation issued to IDPs as a result of registration is usually related to access to entitlements such as a ration and/or health cards. The entitlement documents are often issued by the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency together with the World Food Programme (WFP) and other service providers, irrespective of who has conducted the registration. As with refugee registration, it is preferable to continuously update the data to ensure they accurately reflect changes in IDPs’ lives.


Coordination for a Common Entitlement Card

In the interests of effective coordination and information management, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster partners generally advocate for inter-agency registration and profiling of IDPs in camps. It is important to coordinate among agencies and to aim for a common entitlement card, rather than different agencies issuing different cards.


Voice From the Field - Challenges With Registration

“One of the challenges we’ve had in the camps is ensuring accurate lists. The camps are in close proximity to the town, which makes it an extremely fluid population. Newly displaced persons register in the camp but actually live with host families. Others originating from the town come to the camp saying their identity card got lost during flight. This has all resulted in the registered camp population being considerably higher than the population actually residing in the camp. In the absence of a functioning strategy to address this issue, there has been a decreasing level of trust in the numbers and there has been tension with several activities we have undertaken.

Several operational partners have also carried out their own registrations, and issued separate ration cards as the basis for their assistance. This, again, has resulted in inequality, which has exacerbated the tensions. Below are some lessons learned:

  • Registration is the base of all camp activities: it needs to be prioritised.
  • Registration needs to be carried out by welltrained personnel using tested and approved methodologies.
  • Reasons for inevitable inaccuracies in numbers need to be clearly communicated to all operational partners and the camp population.
  • The Camp Management Agency should advocate strongly for all actors to use the same registration data.


IDP Profiling

At the country level, IDP profiling should be led by the national authorities wherever possible. Where the national authorities need support to assume this responsibility, it is the role of the Humanitarian Country Team, in consultation with the concerned clusters, to initiate a profiling exercise. At the camp level, initiative can be taken by Camp Management Agencies, in consultation with the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency and/or the national authorities, to obtain better information on new or evolving IDP populations. Profiling modalities should be agreed by the various involved actors, although this does not exclude separate needs assessments by different service providers for their particular purposes.


Registration Methodologies and Principles

Whether it is in a refugee or IDP camp, once a decision has been taken to register the camp population, the basic methodology for registration is largely the same. Registration is composed of four phases including different activities as followed:

Phase 1: Preparation

  • agree registration activity objectives
  • review and consolidate existing data related to the population to be registered
  • set up coordination mechanisms and standard operating procedures
  • define roles and responsibilities
  • prepare logistical and administrative support arrangements
  • undertake information campaigns with the population concerned.

Phase 2: Population Fixing

  • determine approximate population size
  • establish means for avoiding inclusion and exclusion errors
  • confirm fraud mitigation measures and complaint procedures.

Phase 3: Registration

  • undertake registration interviews
  • validate collected data
  • issue documentation.

Phase 4: Data Entry and Analysis

  • conduct data management, data entry and sharing
  • ensure continuous registration
  • de-register persons when appropriate.

Other important elements for each phase are presented below.


Voice From the Field - Information and Planning in Sudan

In an IDP camp in Sudan composed of 93,000 displaced people, close cooperation with IDPs and all the agencies involved in the camp was sought for planning and implementing a major head count and registration. Before starting the exercise, two months were spent on a continuous public information campaign, as well as training of functionaries and setting up of infrastructure.


Preparation Phase


Registration can be costly, both in terms of material and human resources, and requires concerted logistical preparation. Overall managerial responsibility should at all times be shared by national authorities and Cluster/Sector Lead Agencies, UNHCR – in its capacity as Camp Coordination Agency for refugee matters as well as IDPs in complex emergencies – and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – as the Camp Coordination Agency for IDPs in natural disaster settings. They should oversee master lists and storage and safe-keeping of data. Service providers present in the camp should be encouraged to participate directly in the registration process and/ or facilitate it by making available personnel and necessary facilities such as latrines, water points and registration venues.


The national authorities and the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency should ensure that the objective for the exercise is clear and obtain input from other agencies working in the camp. Different stakeholders have particular interests in registration and collection of data. Issues related to data ownership and data sharing should be clarified from the beginning. Multiple registrations should be avoided for registration exercises interrupt ongoing activities while unnecessary data reconciliation efforts are time consuming and distracting. Displaced populations should take part in designing the registration process, disseminating public information to fellow camp residents and monitoring access to registration. It is especially important that women take part in decision-making regarding responses to security risks for women and girls during any registration process. Planning should take into consideration special arrangements for people with specific needs such as reduced mobility, persons in detention or those in institutional care.


Women and Girls

Women can face difficulties gaining access to registration. It is thus extremely important to involve them in the design of the registration exercise. Gender-specific roles may discourage women from taking part in the registration process, or men may even prevent women from participating. Unregistered women and girls may be deprived of assistance and protection and consequently become more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.


Information to Collect

Information collection and management is costly. The more information captured, the more time is required to collect and manage it. Only the information needed to monitor, plan and deliver protection services and assistance should be collected. For the initial registration during emergencies, it is therefore often recommended to plan for a rapid household registration to ensure that food and essential service provision can start as soon as possible.


Minimum Information Requirements at the Household Level in an Emergency

  • date of registration
  • names of male and female heads of households
  • gender of the heads of household
  • date of birth or age of the heads of households
  • household or family size
  • location and camp address
  • each family member recorded by gender and age group
  • area/village of origin
  • specific needs within the household
  • consent of family to share data.


Use of Existing Data

Registration exercises cannot be planned without minimum information on the approximate size of the population and the dynamics within the camp and surroundings. It is essential to consolidate existing baseline information prior to the exercise in order to better plan. Existing data can be used as a basis for registration activities, either as starting point for further data collection, or to properly plan resources and logistics for the registration activity.

Initial data collection may have been carried out by the Camp Management Agency, camp leaders, or organisations that conducted immediate distributions, such as food or shelter. Community leaders may have lists of arrivals. Community and committee leaders could assist in the identification of persons with specific needs prior to a registration. Community leaders, it must be remembered, do not necessarily always act in accordance with the common interests of their own community. Lists submitted by committee or community leaders do not eliminate the need for face-to-face verification of identity. Local authorities, who may maintain lists, are often approached by newly arriving IDPs or asylum seekers for registration, and need to be aware of registration procedures.

When pre-existing distribution lists from community leaders are not available, it is necessary to make an estimation of the number of displaced people to be registered so as to plan for number of staff, vehicles, material purchases and other logistical issues. An estimate can be achieved through extrapolation, or in some cases, by aerial photography. Extrapolation can be done through calculating the total area of the camp based on the population or shelter density. Variations in population and shelter occupation rates must be taken into account when using this method. Aerial photography of a camp can also be used to count shelters. A minor ground survey should determine the average family size per shelter and the average percentage of empty shelters.

Time, Staffing and Logistics

Timing is important. Avoid giving notice too late, as people may have to plan in advance to attend registration. Avoid, however, making the announcement too far in advance as people may forget important details. Be aware of any cultural or religious days or events on which registration would be inadvisable. Likewise, the Camp Management Agency needs to ensure that registration does not clash with other interventions such as food distributions or vaccination campaigns. The registration venue should be central, but at a distance from crowded places such as market areas.

Care should be taken when employing staff for registration. It should include the camp population as well as people from the local community in order to share job opportunities. The staff should always include a sufficient number of females. A registration exercise employs many new staff and different agencies are required to work together. It is essential that roles and responsibilities between the various functions are clear and that staff are trained to conduct this specific exercise.

Registrations are complex activities, usually involving large numbers of staff and displaced persons and complex infrastructure. Excellent planning, with sufficient contingency for supplies and delays, is essential. Sufficient time and energy in the preparation stages, and a strong commitment to detailed planning, are needed for a successful registration.

Information Campaigns

Leading up to and during a registration, the clear and systematic dissemination of information is critical and an essential element for success. In order to reach all camp residents, proactive information campaigns are an absolute necessity. All displaced people have a right to know what is being done on their behalf. Communication of transparent and timely information to the community is key to ensuring a registration’s success. Accurate information will reduce anxiety, avoid misunderstandings and contribute to smooth cooperation.

Properly trained staff, hired from among the displaced, should travel to all corners of the camp to spread the message, using different methods and channels which resonate with the community. These communicators are essential in order to inform, answer questions and encourage participation, particularly that of females. In addition, communicators are required to downplay unrealistic expectations and to address any misleading rumours.

Information can be disseminated through radio, meetings and leaflets/posters at mass gatherings, through religious institutions, at water points, schools, market places and other frequently visited public areas. In addition to the proactive campaign, all information concerning the forthcoming registration should be posted where visible, such as outside the Camp Management Agency’s office.


Information to the Community Should Always Make Clear:

  • why the registration is being conducted and based on what criteria
  • with whom the collected information will be shared
  • who will be registered (individuals/households)
  • that people have a right not to register, and that they understand the consequences of not registering
  • that registration is free of charge
  • that, unless clearly stated, registration is not confirmation for assistance entitlement
  • that registration is open to all groups, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, religion and all other characteristics, as long as they match the criteria
  • how complaint procedures work
  • the time, venue and process, including methods and materials.


Security Considerations

Security of staff and the displaced community must be considered at every step of the process. It is important to plan for efficient crowd control and to provide clear instructions to all participants in the registration exercise on how to deal with, for example, aggressive crowds or agitated persons. Proper information sharing prior to any exercise is crucial to avoid confusion and potentially disruptive crowds. Equally important is the availability of sufficient sanitary services, drinking water, shade and shelter from the elements. Insufficient breaks, food or refreshments for staff can disrupt a registration exercise or even jeopardise the safety of both staff and displaced persons.

Population Fixing Phase

What is ‘Fixing’?

The term ‘fixing’ is used to describe a process which aims to temporarily ‘freeze’ or ‘fix’ the camp population size for the purpose of registration. There are various ways of conducting ‘fixing’. Existing registration information or lists are often used as a starting point for registration activities. Distribution agencies and community leaders often have lists of displaced persons. When pre-existing lists or registration data are used as a starting point, it is necessary to decide how to extend registration to individuals who are not on the list but who may, nevertheless, be entitled to registration. This is very important, as not all displaced persons may have received rations or been registered by community leaders.

Fixing can be conducted by handing out tokens or by using tamper-proof wristbands, which are removed when being registered. The fixing token is normally given to the representative of the household after a visual confirmation of the number of persons in the household during the fixing phase. The wristbands are used for every individual. In the registration phase, all individuals would need to be present.

Fixing can be organised either centrally or by house-to-house visits. The camp population can be requested to come to a designated point within the camp. While passing through the point, each member of the household will be marked individually with indelible/invisible ink and receive one token or be wrist-banded. This method is valid in locations with a proper camp layout and functioning public address system. However, it requires a large number of staff to conduct the household visits with sufficient speed.

The fixing process should ideally be completed within a couple of hours, and certainly on the same day so as to avoid unnecessary waiting and to limit the possibility of fraud and double-fixing. Each fixing point should have a supervisor to oversee the process and control the fixing tokens and/or wristbands. Mistakes made at this stage are difficult to correct during the registration. Although attention needs to be paid to their objectivity, community leaders can sometimes help to verify eligibility of displaced persons from their own home areas.

Individuals from neighbouring camps or villages may try to present themselves at the time of fixing. For this reason, it is sometimes necessary to conduct fixing simultaneously in several camps that are close to each other so as to reduce the likelihood of people registering in more than one location.

Fixing products normally need to be ordered from abroad. Sufficient time thus needs to be allocated for them to arrive in camp.


Persons With Reduced Mobility

Persons with reduced mobility require special attention. Bed-ridden persons or persons with disabilities should be fixed by mobile teams to ensure inclusion in the registration. Mobile teams must roam clinics and individual shelters to fix those persons. It is necessary to liaise closely with health agencies and community leaders in advance for the fixing exercise.


Organising Facilities

Depending on the climate, it is important to ensure some protection against rain, heat or cold. Shade needs to be provided in a warm climate and heating in cold climes. Access to water and latrines needs to be in place at every fixing point.


Registration Phase

How to Organise Registration

Waiting time should be minimised, through careful scheduling of registration interviews. Households with persons with specific needs should be given priority and facilities designed to accommodate their needs. For example, special attention is needed for households with older persons, disabled persons or with pregnant women.

Registration usually requires registration offices or registration points, which can be as simple as a registration clerk behind a desk in the open air. The list of people who cannot come to the registration point should be provided either by the health centre or through the leadership in advance of the exercise. Mobile registration teams will move around to register individuals unable to show up due to disability, sickness or old age.

At each registration point, a staff member should be available to answer questions, explain procedures and organise the waiting area. Staff should be identifiable at all times, wearing for example, T-shirts, caps or vests and displaying their ID cards.


Voice From the Field - Ensuring Access to Registration

“During registration in 2005 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, it was made known to the Camp Management Agency that the authorities would not register a single female-headed household as a ‘household’. If the single female had a son, then they would be registered as a household in the son’s name. This meant that in government registrations there was no record of single female-headed households, which had implications and led to discrepancies between government information and data from other sources.”


Registration of the Family or Individual

Registration can be conducted either at the family/household or individual level. Normally there is a phased approach, with family/household-level registration taking place initially, followed by individual registration, if necessary. In some situations, due to the requirement of the operation or the objective of the exercise, individual registration may take place directly without a family/household registration taking place.

If family/household registration is to take place first, it needs to be ensured that those with specific needs are registered individually from the beginning so the proper follow-up can be conducted, for example, for separated or unaccompanied minors within a family. Specialised training may be needed for registration staff to be able to identify the groups at risk. It is essential that cooperation is sought from agencies with a specialised focus and already-trained staff.

☞ For more information on persons with specific needs, see Chapter 11, Protection of Persons with Specific Needs.


Unaccompanied and Separated Children

Unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) are among the most vulnerable. The Camp Management Agency may receive UASC information through their day-to-day work with displaced persons or during registration. Identification of UASC cases must be approached carefully to ensure that all genuine cases are found, while not attracting false cases. Registration of UASC must be carried out as soon as identified and cases should be immediately reported to the relevant child protection agencies operating in the area. The forms used to register UASC, namely the Inter-Agency Registration Form (2014) and the Extended Registration Form (2014), can be found in the tools section of this chapter, along with the Guidance Notes document. These notes should be read together with staff.



On completion of the registration, documentation may be issued to the head(s) of the household, or in some cases, each individual. Depending on the situation and circumstances, the documentation may be an entitlement card, such as ration and/or registration card.

Whenever possible, it is recommend that entitlement cards, especially ration cards, are issued to a female head of household. Women and their children may face difficult times if the husband leaves, taking the family ration card or if the husband does not have the interests of the family in mind. In cases where it is not culturally acceptable to issue entitlement cards to female heads of household, it should indicate the names of both a female and male head of household. This information needs to be captured during registration.


Registration Cards

Camp registration cards may be issued to camp residents to confirm their residence in addition to entitlement/ration cards. This may be useful, for example, when not all residents of a camp are entitled to food assistance, but rather to other assistance such as education or health. The need for a camp registration card must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This requires an analysis in any given situation of both the positive and negative implications that the issuance of such a card would have. The camp registration cards should not be confused with ID cards or status documentation which confirms the status of a person, such as protection letters or attestation letters, issued by government/UNHCR to refugees/asylum seekers as proof of their refugee/ asylum seeker status, or by the government confirming that the person is a national of their country.


The actual information to appear on any documentation or card needs to be assessed for each situation. However, the card should not contain any information which unnecessarily provides confidential information, such as health information. Neither should it put the displaced person in a vulnerable situation by, for example, including information on ethnicity. In respecting the privacy of the individual/family, it should also not contain more information than is necessary for the purpose. In some instances, for protection purposes, the registration number should be printed on the card instead of a person’s name or other personal information, which then would be used together with the database.


In Some Situations, Cards May Contain the Following Information:

  • names of the heads of family, in some cases, all family members
  • camp location and/or camp address
  • family size and number of children under five
  • date of issue
  • issued by (agency/name of staff)
  • expiry date (preferably a cycle of six months to one year)
  • programming information, such as health and nutrition status or age group.


Registration Fraud

As registration normally provides access to entitlements, it may be prone to attempts of fraud. For example, fake camp registration cards or entitlement cards might be produced and start to circulate. People might borrow family members from the host community or neighbours to inflate their household size. The Camp Management Agency should develop consistent routines for updating records and replacing lost or damaged camp registration cards and entitlement cards. People may try to register under false names, making cross-checking with other lists futile. On-going information campaigns and welcome centres for new arrivals help to limit fraud or illegal transfer of cards.


Voice From the Field - Empty Shelter?

“According to the site leader, about 25 families are keeping additional family cards, despite their relatives having left the site. This enables them to have continued access to empty shelters and still claim assistance during distributions. The IDP leader said he tried at one point to count the empty shelters, but had been stopped by other site members. They told him that the shelters weren’t empty, that their relatives had only left the site for work and would be back again in the evening. Now we see materials from the empty shelters are being looted as well.”


The plan for the registration activity should incorporate ways to prevent fraud involving staff. For example, frequent rotation of staff and clear division of responsibilities may help reduce fraud. It would also avoid putting refugees or the local population hired temporarily for the registration exercise in a position of authority, such as being able to issue entitlement cards or collect registration data. Strong supervision and a clear complaint mechanism are some important components.



Regrettably, instances of fraud involving staff have been reported in many past registration exercises. This can involve the inclusion of ineligible persons, the inflation of family size or the wrongful issuance of entitlement cards in exchange for favours or bribes. Staff needs to be informed that there is no justification for misconduct and of the consequences of inappropriate behaviour. All staff, including those hired for this purpose only, must sign a code of conduct. Misconduct issues should be clearly addressed during the registration training.


Complaint Mechanism

A complaint mechanism with a follow-up procedure preserves the dignity of displaced persons by allowing them to actively voice their complaints. By establishing a complaint mechanism, agencies are accountable for mistakes that can happen and signal their preparedness to rectify them. In camp situations and immediately after displacement the population is often most vulnerable and the likelihood of the displaced being intimidated by a registration process the highest. The complaint mechanism constitutes one way to ensure humanitarian agencies’ accountability towards displaced persons.

Efforts should be made to establish procedures for people to file complaints, report persons who have allegedly missed out or to report misconduct of registration staff. Also, people should be encouraged to make suggestions for improvements. Complaint procedures must incorporate appropriate procedures for effective follow-up.


Complaints Procedures Should:

  • include a standard complaints form (all complaints received, however, should be reviewed, regardless of the submission format)
  • give persons submitting a complaint an opportunity to identify themselves to the management, at a minimum, while respecting their anonymity should they fear retaliation
  • include provisions to submit complaints through a staff member other than the one about whom the complaint is made
  • ensure that complaints are submitted directly to the registration manager, or other staff member with oversight responsibilities for registration and related activities
  • encourage anyone to report misconduct in registration- related activities. Such an opportunity must exist to do this anonymously, which will allow for the agencies’ attention to be drawn to the occurrence of certain problems otherwise not revealed.


☞ For more information on complaint mechanism, see Chapter 3, Community Participation.

Data Entry and Analysis Phase

Electronic Entry of Data and Creation of Lists

In coordination with key stakeholders, data collected during the registration may be computerised and entered into a database. The database can be a simple Excel sheet, an Access database (which has licensing implications) or other types of customised databases. In many situations, field capacity to maintain the database needs to be assessed closely before deciding on the design. Excel sheets are easy to maintain and in many countries their use is well-known.

The database will help sort and analyse demographic information and can provide tally sheets for the purpose of distribution. A database gives an accessible overview of the camp population, can generate aggregated data used for planning and programming purposes and can be updated to maintain accuracy. UNHCR’s global registration application (proGres) is used to register refugees, asylum seekers, as well as IDPs and stateless populations. IOM registration modules for IDPs are adapted to country requirements.

Only authorised persons should have access to the data, as noted below in the section on data confidentiality and data sharing. Strict routines for creating back-ups need to be established. Once a database is operational it can provide the Camp Management Agency and stakeholders with various lists according to needs: for distribution, for identifying children of school age and for approaching elders, to mention a few. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance.


Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping and Persons With Specific Needs

Be aware that GIS mapping of individuals with specific needs may put people at increased risk. Information that is mapped needs to be carefully vetted. This does not, however, exclude the collection of GIS data for key camp points or mapping at the block/community level for this does not pinpoint the whereabouts of more vulnerable individuals in the camp.


Data Confidentiality and Sharing

As the registration involves recording data on households and individuals, all processing of registration information should strictly adhere to data protection principles and the individual’s right to privacy. Registration data must be properly handled and stored to avoid access by unauthorised persons.

The number of staff handling registration information should be limited. The agency in charge has overall responsibility for the safekeeping of collected information. Both confidentiality and protection concerns need to be kept in mind when sharing information with other agencies and authorities. This needs to be discussed and agreed in advance with various agencies taking part in the camp registration exercise in order to avoid misunderstandings later. In addition, the actual registration should provide as much privacy as is realistically possible. For example, there should be sufficient distance between those being registered and the queue of people waiting, so that personal issues raised are not overheard.

Specific information on any population or group of people, in particular in conflict environments, can be gravely misused and must not end up in the wrong hands. Persons who have fled from persecution and/or situations of violence and conflict will have especially legitimate concerns for their identity and whereabouts to be protected. Hence, in any registration planning, the protection of information on individuals must receive the highest consideration.

Whenever information is processed ask:

  • for what reason?
  • in what format?
  • for how long it will be kept?

IOM and UNHCR have developed extensive guidance and frameworks on data protection issues relevant to humanitarian contexts. Based on rigorous data protection principles, these policy documents, and associated guidance, should be respected.

☞ For more information on information management and confidentiality, see Chapter 5, Information Management.

Continuous Registration in the Camp

Planning should also include provision for continuous registration which aims to keep all registration information obtained updated on a continuing basis. Personal and/ or family circumstances change over time with newborns, marriages, deaths and returns. Continuous registration can also be implemented as part of verification and a regular and frequent part of monitoring. Food distribution can be used for spot checks of those coming to receive food. If changes in the population are too significant to keep pace with, a verification exercise may need to be planned to reconfirm the camp residents against the master list/database. Once a displaced person or a household/family are confirmed as no longer living in the camp, entitlement cards should be cancelled and records closed.

This can be a challenge, but if implemented correctly, it will make optimal use of existing resources to achieve the highest possible accuracy and timeliness of registration information.


Verification Activities

Finding out why people do not show up for food distribution should be part of verification activities and is, in itself, an important protection activity.


New Arrivals

New arrivals should be registered in accordance with existing registration practices. To the extent possible, new arrivals should be cross-checked for records at other camps or at any other distribution point by the Camp Management Agency. It is also important to agree procedures for managing new arrivals with all partners, including those distributing commodities. Procedures should also be known to the camp residents, so that when their friends and relatives arrive, they can inform them of the proper procedures to get registered.


Screening Process

In a mass influx situation where proper registration of new arrivals is not feasible, reception centres should be established to ‘fix’ (define) new arrivals and avoid subsequent labour-intensive head counts. This can be part of a screening process in cooperation with healthcare providers. Already existing leadership structures could be helpful at this stage.



Persons who permanently leave the camp or are deceased no longer have entitlements to assistance and should be deregistered. In practice, families rarely report departure or death as they either hope to continue to receive assistance with the card of the departed or deceased person or to sell the entitlement card.

To enable better reporting of deceased persons, the distribution of burial cloths or provision of other forms of burial assistance to the household in question could assist. The Camp Management Agency may undertake this responsibility.

In relation to people leaving a camp, some prefer to hold on to their documentation as an insurance to be able to return and not lose access to assistance and services. In the process of deciding to return, families may send some members ahead in order to assess security conditions and availability of housing and livelihood before returning with the entire family. It is important to be sensitive to these motivations and make a proper assessment before deregistering persons who have left.

In organised return movements or population transfers, deregistration can also be done in conjunction with distribution of return kits or packages, or payment of return cash stipends.


Profiling Methodologies and Principles

Profiling methodologies and principles include the following:

  • desk review
  • quantitative methods
  • qualitative methods
  • mixed methods.

The profiling methodologies listed below are a summary from the Guidance on Profiling Internally Displaced Persons. While the methodologies have been compiled specifically for IDP profiling at a country/regional level rather than camps, the methodologies listed can be applied to camp situations and refugee profiling as well.

Desk Review

Desk review is a useful first step. It aims to obtain a view on what information is available, sufficient, outdated or simply non-existent. It also shows where the main information gaps lie and where to prioritise more data gathering. It should review both locally and internationally available information to the extent possible.

Quantitative Methods

In most cases, these methods either collect data on the whole population or part of the population in a way that the results can be extrapolated to generalise about the whole population.

Rapid Population Estimations

These are suitable for estimating the numbers and basic characteristics of the population in a short period of time, for example, when the situation is still unstable and there are movements. Some methods can be used where ground access is not possible. However, in principle, ground access is needed to obtain more accurate population estimation. Best used in a well-defined geographic area, additional information needed to capture the characteristics of the population can be obtained during the estimation exercise.

  • Area Survey Using Aerial/Satellite Imaging Used for a broad picture of an ongoing movement to estimate numbers or see what it is that people are fleeing from and where they are moving to. Particularly useful when speed is of the essence and access is difficult or non-existent.
  • Flow Monitoring People are counted while passing a given point, such as a cross-road, bridge, ford or mountain pass, either throughout the movement (comprehensive) or with enumerators returning to the same spot at certain times of the day or week (spot). This method is useful for estimating numbers during a mass movement of people, such as during an exodus from a given area or a return movement.
  • Dwelling or Head Count Counts the entire number of huts in a given area to obtain an estimated overall number of the people in that area. Can be combined with a survey to obtain additional information on the residents. Counts the entire number of people living in a given area. More labour-intensive in comparison to dwelling count. Using sampling methods, counts a subset of the population or dwellings and extrapolates the results to estimate the overall population figure.

Household Survey

Involves selecting a sample of part of the general population and generalising the results. Suitable for data collection at the household and individual level. The method is applicable when the population and ground conditions are stable and allows for a wider collection of additional information. In camps or settlements, a household survey can be used to ascertain and/or collect additional data.


Profiles can be extracted from existing registration data. Once registration data is entered electronically, analysis can be conducted.

Population Census

Census Usually conducted by national authorities once a decade. It covers the entire population of a country. In addition to individual data, a set of relevant socio-economic information is gathered for every household. For IDP situations, the profile of the population may be available in the national census information.

Qualitative Methods

Qualitative methods differ from quantitative methods in that their final outcome may not necessarily be expressed only in numbers and their way of data-gathering does not need to adhere to statistical concepts. They complement quantitative methods and are useful for the triangulation and interpretation of results.


  • Focus Group Discussions These group discussions aim to better understand the population. It is necessary to discuss the same sets of questions with different segments within the population, for example, with male and female groups and with adolescents, adults, older people and people with disabilities. In this way it is possible to ensure that different views existing within the population are captured as accurately as possible.
  • Key Informant Interviews Key informant interviews are conducted for a very small number of pre-selected people who may hold relevant information. As with the focus group discussions, diversity is essential to obtain a representative overview.

Mixed Methods

Location/Site and Group Level Assessments

Location assessment consists of assessing and monitoring the lowest geographical observation unit to establish the baseline information for entire affected areas, including identification of displacement points to target for site and group level assessments. Site and group level assessment will collect more detailed information – including profile of the site/group, population demographics and multi-sectoral information aggregated at the site/group level. Both assessment types are done through the methods of direct observation, including quick counting and measuring, collecting available information from key informants and focus group discussions.