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Advancing civil registration and vital statistics in the service of Syrian refugees


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Presentation by Marwan Khawaja (UN-ESCWA) at the international conference on innovations in Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems - Ottawa on 27-28 February 2018. See more at

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Advancing civil registration and vital statistics in the service of Syrian refugees

  1. 1. Marwan Khawaja Chief of Demographic & Social Statistics, ESCWA Advancing Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in the Service of Syrian Refugees
  2. 2. Outline • CRVS connections for ESCWA • Context • Project objectives • Syrian refugees in Lebanon & Jordan • Methods • Preliminary results • Preliminary conclusions Photo: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  3. 3. 2030 Development Agenda • Leave no one behind • SDG 16.9 • Connection to several SDG themes, i.e. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Health and Well-Being, Gender Equality 2014-2019 Regional Strategy for the Improvement of CRVS Systems • Jointly with WHO-EMRO and UNFPA-ASRO • Technical assistance, regional workshops and expert group meetings CRVS connections for ESCWA
  4. 4. 1. Develop analytical capacity to critically appraise vital statistics quality in all countries of the region 2. Increase and sustain investments and resource allocation to improve institutional and human capacity for civil registration and vital statistics systems Key priorities in the strategic plan -
  5. 5. The 47th Session of the UN Statistical Commission has acknowledged “the urgent need to build more efficient information systems against the backdrop of a rapidly growing volume of forcibly displaced persons due to new humanitarian crises”2 The 49th Session …Recommendations on refugee statistics & technical report on IDP statistics • Member states have requested that ESCWA provide technical assistance to improve official statistics on refugee populations in the region 2. United Nations, Statistical Commission Report on the Forty-Seventh Session, 8-11 March 2016 3. UNHCR, Executive Committee Conclusions on Civil Registration No. 111 (LXIV) 2013 Increasing attention to CRVS for refugees
  6. 6. Number of refugees in ESCWA member states Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2017 Revision. New York: United Nations.
  7. 7. Situation of Syrian refugees Massive Displacement • 6.3 million internally displaced within Syria • 5.3 million refugees in neighboring countries Heterogeneity of living situation Lebanon: • Over 1.4 million Syrian refugees; 1 million registered with UNHCR • On May 6, 2015 UNHCR suspended registration at the request of Lebanese government • No camp policy: Informal settlements; within local community • Last census – 1932 Jordan: • 1.4 million Syrian refugees; 630,000 registered with UNHCR • 30% in camps; 70% in urban and rural communities • Last census – 2015
  8. 8. Situation of Syrian refugees The ongoing war in Syria and resulting displacement have obstructed the complete and accurate registration of vital events for a growing number of Syrians Assessments from the Norwegian Refugee Council have identified the following challenges 4,5 • General lack of understanding among refugees of the importance of civil registration and of how to access and navigate civil registration processes • Some refugees are unable to provide the supporting documents required to register vital events • Large numbers of refugees can overwhelm public authorities and the functioning of their administrative systems
  9. 9. Project objectives • To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of CRVS systems for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon • To promote knowledge sharing and coordinated efforts among national authorities and international agencies seeking to improve the responsiveness of civil registration processes to the needs of refugees • To enhance the capacity of Jordan and Lebanon to produce reliable and timely vital statistics for refugees
  10. 10. Methods & Outputs - • Study knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of policymakers, practitioners and refugees with regard to current vital registration processes and practices. Qualitative evidence -FGDs • Assessment of the completeness, quality and timeliness of CRVS of refugee communities in Jordan and Lebanon. • Indirect estimates • Record linkage studies • Survey of hard to reach populations (later stage) Partners: UNHCR, WHO, UNICEF & a number of non-UN partners
  11. 11. Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Birth Registration – how it works, what do we know? Convenience sample information collected by Norwegian Refugee Council
  12. 12. For children under-5 in the VASYR: • 97% of parents with children born in Syria reported that they registered the birth of their children • 17% of parents with children born in Lebanon reached at least the level of birth registration with the Foreigners’ Registry in Lebanon, or having registered the birth in Syria. Vulnerability Assessment Survey of Syrian Refugees (VASYR), 2016 Limitation: Syrian refugees not registered with UNHCR not included in VASYR Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Birth Registration – how it works, what do we know?
  13. 13. Syrian refugees in Jordan: Birth Registration – how it works, what do we know?
  14. 14. Asylum status questions included in 2015 Jordanian population census
  15. 15. Self-reported refugee registration status by country of origin and sex, Jordan 2015 % Share of Refugee Population by Country of Origin: Syria 43.4 Palestine 21.7 Egypt 21.8 Other 13.1
  16. 16. Household deaths (in previous 24 months) question in population census
  17. 17. Limitations of HH death data from census Census data on household deaths are however associated with a number of limitations that are likely to bias mortality estimates derived from them: • Survival selection bias • Age misreporting • Time-reference errors • Disclosure bias/errors
  18. 18. Preliminary results of death registration completeness from indirect methods WPP 2015 127 92 (Syria) 275 82
  19. 19. Growth balance diagnostic results: non-Jordanian males TABLE HERE 0.000 0.020 0.040 0.060 0.080 0.100 0.120 0.140 0.000 0.002 0.004 0.006 0.008 0.010 0.012 0.014 0.016 0.018 b(x+) d(x+) Obs Fitted -0.030 -0.025 -0.020 -0.015 -0.010 -0.005 0.000 0.005 0.010 0.015 0.020 0.000 0.002 0.004 0.006 0.008 0.010 0.012 0.014 0.016 0.018 Residuals -3.00 -2.50 -2.00 -1.50 -1.00 -0.50 0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 -3.00 -2.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 Y(x) Ys(x)Obs. Y(x) 0.00 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14 0.16 0 20 40 60 80 5mx Smooth ed adjusted rates
  20. 20. Preliminary conclusions Limited understanding of birth registration and death registration completeness of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon • Reliance on small-scale convenience sample data from NRC • Reliance on self-reported survey responses from registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon Notable methodological limitations in applying DDMs to highly mobile population • Stable population assumptions • Need for detailed migration information Opportunities for record linkage studies to assess birth and death registration completeness • Jordan: match census deaths to Jordanian registration data • Lebanon: match VASYR survey data to Lebanese registration data
  21. 21. Thank you