Enhancing Data on Displaced Children and Youth

Dear Colleagues,

The number of those forcibly displaced keeps increasing around the world and recent humanitarian crises are likely to exacerbate this trend. Data and evidence are critical to inform our response to this phenomenon, but their effectiveness relies on their quality and alignment to international standards. Adherence to these standards, in fact, enables the comparison of forcibly displaced populations to other groups and their integration in development plans and programs. This calls for the inclusion of the forcibly displaced in national data systems, including census and regular population surveys. In 2016, the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) established the Expert Group on Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Statistics (EGRIS) as way to start addressing this issue and progress towards the development of a coherent body of guidance for countries and evidence on these populations.

The EGRIS community, which now includes 45 country members and 25 international and regional organizations, has moved some important steps in this direction. EGRIS recently published the International Recommendations on Internally Displaced Persons Statistics (IRIS), which were officially endorsed by the UNSC in March 2020. The IRIS thereby follows in the footsteps of the first statistical framework developed by EGRIS and endorsed by UNSC in 2018, the International Recommendations on Refugee Statistics (IRRS), and forebodes the ongoing work of EGRIS on the International Recommendations on Statelessness Statistics (IROSS). EGRIS is now in its third phase, which focuses on implementation. With a strong emphasis on capacity development and coordination, the group has launched its workplan of activities for the next few years, including a one-day conference in September, organised in collaboration with JIPS, that helped to build a roadmap for the third phase. More information on IRIS can be found in this blog, drafted by JDC and World Bank representatives.

The work of EGRIS has also been linked directly to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition to advocating for the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicator 10.7.4 on refugees (added to the global indicator framework in 2020), the group has identified 12 priority SDG indicators that are most relevant for forcibly displaced populations and recommended that national SDG data producers and global custodian agencies disaggregate these for refugees and IDPs. The recently released report Data Disaggregation of SDG Indicators by Forced Displacement provides a review of the availability of published disaggregated SDG indicators, and assesses the feasibility of estimating them based on existing data.

The issues of comparability of evidence and transparency in the data collection methods emerge even more clearly when one looks at data on specific subgroups of the displaced populations. This is the case, for example, for data on displaced children and youth. We investigate this topic in the latest issue of the JDC Digest, which we have curated in collaboration with the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. Traditional approaches to managing forced displacement, remain largely child blind. There are widespread gaps in data and analysis, which in turn limit the impact of evidence-driven practice. The Digest highlights some examples of research which contribute to closing these gaps. Specifically, the Digest focuses on three main areas of investigation: mental health risks faced by forcibly displaced children; evidence from existing evaluations and assessments on ‘what works’; and emerging research into the use of technological innovations for the management of child migration and displacement data. Taken together, these research contributions offer examples of credible, actionable evidence which practitioners and policymakers urgently need to better support those who are forcibly displaced around the world, regardless of age.

The Digest also reflects on the data protection issues and ethical challenges which can arise in dealing with vulnerable populations. These important topics are also the subject of a new Operational Guidance on Data Responsibility which was released earlier this year by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to ensure concrete steps for data responsibility in all phases of humanitarian action.

As always, we welcome feedback and suggestions on the Newsletter, for future editions of the Quarterly Digest or papers to be included in the Literature Review Update. Please don’t hesitate to contact Zara Sarzin ([email protected]) or Domenico Tabasso ([email protected]) directly.

Yours sincerely,

Björn Gillsäter

Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement