Emergency registration
© UNHCR/Adam Dean
6.1 Introduction
Table of Contents

Key Messages

    • In a refugee emergency, UNHCR should deploy qualified registration staff as soon as possible to support assessment, develop registration strategy and objectives, and support the operational response.
    • Efforts should be made to commence some form of registration within seven days of an initial influx. Individual registration (IER) is the standard dataset in emergency contexts.
    • From the outset of the emergency response, UNHCR should work with the host government and engage all relevant stakeholders to build and sustain a sense of collaboration towards a common set of goals, including working together to minimize duplication of activities.
    • Persons with specific needs should be identified and prioritized at all stages of the process, and referred to available services. The presence of protection staff during registration is indispensable.
    • The operation needs to plan for continuous registration from the outset of the emergency and identify the resources this activity will require. In particular, the registration of new births occurring during and after the emergency phase should be assured.
    • Registration is costly. Make sure that adequate human and financial resources are allocated for registration activities, and that newly recruited staff are provided with adequate training prior to beginning registration activities.
  • An emergency is a situation in which the lives, rights and well-being of refugees and other persons of concern are or will be threatened unless immediate and appropriate action is taken on a scale that UNHCR’s existing capacity at country and regional level cannot provide.

    Registration is one of UNHCR’s primary activities at the onset of an emergency. Registration in emergencies enables UNHCR and partners to establish a reliable population baseline for programme planning purposes, identify and assist persons with specific needs and establish a system for the ongoing delivery of protection, assistance and documentation in the medium and longer term.

    Registration should get underway as quickly as possible after the population in question has stopped moving. In an emergency, efforts should be made to commence registration or, as a minimum, pre-registration activities, within seven days of an initial influx. While registration is not a prerequisite for the provision of food or other forms of assistance to persons of concern, registration from the beginning of the emergency strengthens accountability and facilitates implementation of protection activities.

    Registration in an emergency context should follow general guidance for regular registration, unless otherwise indicated here. General guidance related to the planning and implementation of regular registration activities can be found in modules 3, 4 and 5. This module aims to provide emergency-specific guidance on registration activities and highlight the key areas that distinguish registration in emergencies from registration in non-emergency operational contexts. For example, emergency registration involves:

    • Significant thought and planning in setting up large scale registration actives in a short timeframe, including designing of new registration centres or expanding existing ones;

    • Negotiations on numerous issues with authorities, other partners and internally,

    • Drafting a strategy and corresponding budget, equipment and staffing needs,

    • Procuring equipment, conducting large scale recruitment and staff straining,

    • Defining a reduced data set due to the need for a quick response, differing data requirements given the specific context,

    • Staying flexible in the face of difficulties associated with the fast pace of evolving circumstances and changing availability of infrastructure, resources and capacity on the ground.