Refugee and asylum-seeker registers are most frequently used sources of data on refugees and they can provide information on individual characteristics such as sex, date of birth, marital status, country of origin, and place of displacement. They may also provide information on specific needs of individuals or family or household characteristics. Registers that are continuous are particularly valuable because they allow for regular follow-up of individuals. Nevertheless, this source of data overlooks refugees that are not able or not willing to be registered.
Population censuses may collect data on refugees living in camps. Compared to registers, censuses can provide more comprehensive data on individual and household characteristics, including on migration, education, work and living arrangements. However, because censuses are usually conducted only every 10 years and because they do not allow regular follow-up on individuals, the information obtained becomes quickly outdated.
IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) profiling surveys can provide information on individuals and households in certain displaced or affected populations.
Surveillance systems targeted to refugee camps can be used to provide information on health and mortality (UNHCR, 2010a). HIV Behavioural Surveillance Surveys (BSS) have been conducted, for example, in 2010, in Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda (UNHCR, 2011).
Administrative sources are an important source of information on access of refugees to education and health services. Additional administrative records focused on the population in camps can be used a source of information on nutrition and supplementary feeding, or management of camps.