UNRWA serves some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. To determine who is eligible for UNRWA services, we maintain, update and preserve people’s records, creating a family file for each Palestine refugee registered with UNRWA. This file contains details of birth, gender, marital status and location. There are more than 17 million documents in total, including birth certificates, property deeds and registration papers dating back to pre-1948 Mandatory Palestine.
The registration records we maintain are used across the Agency, supporting UNRWA programmes by verifying the status of Palestine refugees who apply for services.
UNRWA began maintaining Palestine refugees’ registration records in May 1950. By the time the initial registration process closed, in June 1952, we had registered 914,000 out of 1,000,000 Palestine refugees. We reopened the registration process in 1992, and now, Palestine refugees can register with UNRWA irrespective of their current place or country of residence.
The web-based, centralized Refugee Records Information System (RRIS) allows information to be updated from 47 offices across the Agency. The RRIS has enhanced the accuracy of our data, improved service delivery and fixed persistent technical problems. This is the first step in developing a modern, integrated information system, in accordance with international practices and standards, that will provide easier, faster and more reliable access to the refugee data that UNRWA safeguards and upon which it depends.