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UNHCR, EU working with Chad on biometrics registration program for refugees


UNHCR and the European Union is working in Chad to help children of refugees fleeing war to receive ID cards.

The UN agency, in conjunction with the EU, is helping Chad implement a biometric registration and nationality verification program to support returnees and prevent statelessness.

Implemented by local Chadian authorities in collaboration with UNHCR and its partners, the program is slated to expand throughout southern Chad, where 11,000 people need official documentation. So far, more than 6,000 returnees have been registered under the program.

Procedures necessary to determine whether individuals are Chadian nationals who require birth certificates or ID cards, are costly and require a tremendous amount of time.

Ginette Ody, a UNHCR Associate Protection Officer stationed in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, noted in a UN statement that: “The programme is very demanding when it comes to time, human and logistical resources. Aside from ordinary screening, it is often necessary to have supplementary judicial rulings from local authorities before confirming the authenticity of someone’s Chadian background. Carrying out such operations in far-flung Chadian districts close to the Central African Republic border can be very costly.”

Ody also noted that identity registration “is crucial to continue preventing these communities from living in an eternal administrative limbo, so that their access to education, health care and state services is granted.”

According to the UNHCR, worldwide at least 10 million people are believed to be stateless. The UN agency works with governments around the world to identify, prevent, and end statelessness, which frequently bars people from access to studying, healthcare, work, travel and voting in elections.

In Chad, the agency will continue to liaise with the humanitarian community, local authorities, and the police to visit rural areas in order to register returnees.

Previously reported, the World Food Programme partnered with the UNHCR to provide an iris scan payment system in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp.

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