Bi-lingual Searches

One of the main challenges of retrieving information is to overcome language barriers. The great majority of documents featured on is in English, less than 10 percent of the information is in German. By linking the bi-lingual thesaurus to our search engine related terms in the other language will also be included in your search query (if they are contained in the thesaurus).

Example: A search query for IDPs will also include equivalent German terms. Therefore the search engine will also find documents containing the German terms Binnenvertriebene, Binnenfl├╝chtlinge or Intern Vertriebene.

Inclusion of Synonyms & Near Synonyms

Often different terms are used to describe the same. Therefore synonyms, near synonyms and different spellings of terms contained in our thesaurus will be included in your search query.

Example: A search query for female genital cutting will include related English terms. Therefore the search engine will also find documents containing the terms FGM, female genital mutilation or female circumcision.


In cooperation with the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Vienna and punkt.netServices we have developed a bi-lingual thesaurus covering COI-specific terminology in 2007. Our main motivation is to improve access to information through our search engine. The first version facilitating bilingual searches went online in early 2008. The COI Thesaurus is currently developed to include more terms.

We would like to thank the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany and the Federal Office for Migration in Switzerland for their valuable input on structure and terms for our thesaurus. The International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology of UNHCR and FMO as well as the HURIDOCS Micro-thesauri, kindly provided by the respective organizations, were of great help in identifying relevant terms to be contained in the COI thesaurus.


Bilingual thesaurus: English and German (plus about 800 concepts in Italian developed in a joint project with the Austrian Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum's COI unit).

About 5400 terms ("concepts"), plus synonyms and near synonyms (in all languages together over 40000 entries). Concepts are organised by broader-narrower relationships and, where appropriate, linked by associative relationships. Occasionally, a term has more than one broader term.

Currently 10 classes or chapters:

We are currently working on the expansion of the 10th chapter, which includes country-specific terms and proper names, as well as on the chapter of geographical areas (to include lower level administrative divisions for selected countries).

Data format: SKOS / RDF.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for questions or feedback on the COI Thesaurus.