Efforts to provide biometric ID cards to Rohingya refugees scale up

The UN Refugee Agency and the government of Bangladesh are scaling up biometric registration of Rohingya refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar in order to provide them with biometric ID cards.

The UNHCR announced the efforts after a visit by Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk and other agency representatives to the world’s largest refugee settlement, Kutupalong, and meeting with Bengali government officials. Türk lauded efforts by Bangladesh’s government and host communities to support the refugees.

The biometric ID cards are being provided to enhance the protection of refugees, as well as make the delivery of humanitarian assistance and services more effective and efficient, according to the announcement. The registration is also intended to confirm the right of return for displaced individuals.

“The Rohingya are a stateless people as well as refugees,” Türk says. “These cards are important means to protect their identity and their right to return to Myanmar. The Rohingya represent the largest group of stateless refugees in the world. Many have never had proper identity documents. This is a big milestone in protecting their identity.”

More than 125,000 refugees have been registered and issued ID cards so far.

An estimated 688,000 people have been displaced by violence in Myanmar, but an Oxfam report a year ago questions the value of biometric technology for managing the situation, saying biometrics are among experimental technologies the humanitarian sector has been pressured to deploy.

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