Uganda launches biometric program to verify identities of 1 million refugees
The government of Uganda has launched a program to verify the identities of the more than 1 million refugees in the country with biometrics, according to an announcement by the UN’s Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
The program, in which government officials collect fingerprints and iris scans, is supported by the UNHCR and the World Food Programme. The UNHCR’s biometric registration software has already been used to register 4.4 million refugees in 48 countries, and those who are verified with it under the Ugandan program will receive new ration cards, with their biometrics being used to provide assistance.
It is expected that six teams will register 18,000 people a day in six refugee camps and the capital, Kampala, to complete the program by September of this year.
“The exercise follows a directive by the prime minister to the authenticate data contained in the government’s refugee registration system,” Douglas Asiimwe, the head of refugee protection in the prime minister’s office told refugees at the Oruchinga Refugee Settlement. “It will help us to ensure that we have credible information to protect and assist refugees effectively and efficiently.”
The UNHCR employs Ugandans to register the refugees, and the registration process in Oruchinga is supported by 42 volunteers from the refugee community.
“We’re used to big numbers, but today is going to be busy,” said Ugandan Winnie Mugisa, who has worked for UNHCR since 2007. “The verification is very important. We need to have a system, a standard.”
More than 1 million of the 1.4 million refugees in Uganda have entered the country in the last 18 months, according to UNHCR, largely driven by unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.