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PRESS RELEASE October 20, 2017

New World Bank-UNHCR joint data center to improve global statistics on forced displacement

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and World Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva © World Bank/ Brandon Payne

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2017 – The World Bank Group (WBG) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are joining forces to establish a joint data center on forced displacement to greatly improve statistics on refugees, other displaced people and host communities.

The new center, announced today, will enable a better informed and more sustainable response to forced displacement, underpinning a coordinated humanitarian-development approach. It builds on UNHCR’s role as the reference institution for refugee data, bringing in the WBG’s analytical expertise and experience helping national governments improve statistical capacity. 

“The scale, complexity and speed of today’s refugee crises mean we can no longer afford to respond through humanitarian action alone. It is more important than ever to mobilize resources and plan for the longer term from the beginning.  This is why early access to reliable data for development partners like the World Bank is so important,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“When resources are scarce all efforts should be made to get help to those who need it. Improving data and evidence is critical to ensure that these resources are used efficiently and effectively. We have much to learn from UNHCR’s experience, so that we can do more together working in complementary ways to help both refugees and their hosts,” said World Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva. 

With almost 90% of refugees living in the developing world, and more than half displaced for over 4 years, there is recognition by the international community that humanitarian interventions need to be complemented by a longer-term development response.

UNHCR and the WBG have been strengthening collaboration under this new approach, which is reflected in ongoing efforts to develop a global compact on refugees for adoption by the end of  2018. Delivering such a comprehensive response requires high-quality, timely data, which was also underscored in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of September 2016. Global-level data defines the international agenda, while country-level data informs policies and helps to target aid resources appropriately. More needs to be done to strengthen the collection, quality, access, and use of data. 

The new data center will cover refugees, internally displaced persons and other groups as well as host communities. It aims to:

  • Ensure population and socioeconomic data are systematically collected and analyzed
  • Facilitate open access to forced displacement data, while ensuring the integrity of the legal protection framework
  • Promote innovations to enhance forced displacement data through satellite imagery, cell phones, and other new technologies
  • Strengthen the global data collection system, establishing common norms, definitions, and methodologies, and support efforts to fortify country systems where necessary.

The potential impact of enhanced cooperation between the WBG and UNHCR is significant. For example, detailed data, where they were available, enabled the two institutions to prepare landmark reports on the welfare of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, which in turn led to a better targeting of humanitarian assistance as well as the preparation of development projects. In Kenya, it made possible a detailed analysis of the role of the Kakuma refugee camp in the local economy, demonstrating that the presence of refugees had a positive effect overall on economic growth in Northeast Kenya.  

Systematically making data available will allow for a dramatic scaling up of such critical analytical work, which is essential as the WBG and UNHCR collaborate to support both refugees and host communities. Evidence-based information will also be available for use by practitioners and policy makers to improve programs and projects on forced displacement.

The data center is expected to be ready for operation in mid-2018.


Chris Boian in Washington DC
+1 202 243 7634
Ariane Rummery in Geneva
+41 79 200 7617
World Bank
Chisako Fukuda in Washington DC
+1 202 473 9424