UNHCR using biometric iris scanning to register Syrian refugees coming into Iraq

UNHCR uses biometric iris scanning to register hundreds of refugees

United Nations’ refugee agency the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has been using biometric iris scans to register refugees, mostly women, children, and elderly, who are arriving by the hundreds every day into Iraq from northeast Syria, said spokesperson Andrej Mahecic during a press briefing last week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In October, the UNHCR announced it expanded the use of biometrics for food distribution to over 100 sites across eight countries, and used the technology to enroll an additional 2.4 million refugees in 2018.

In August, the UNHCR in partnership with Iraqi mobile wallet Zain Cash started using iris biometric technology from IrisGuard for faster verification of refugee identity in Iraq. Iris recognition makes the identification process more accurate and efficient, and reduces fraud attempts to guarantee the service or financial benefit is received by the person it is intended for.

Following a violence and conflict-driven week, the UNHCR has offered assistance to almost 60,000 newly displaced Syrians. A number of refugees required assistance such as medical, psycho-social support, and protection services. According to UN estimates, approximately 166,000 people have fled their homes in the last week alone.

Iris recognition is heavily deployed in biometric access control systems at government facilities, the roll out which is expected to drive a growth of by 18 percent CAGR from 2019 to 2024, according to a report from IMARC Group. Healthcare has proven a tremendous growth opportunity for iris biometric vendors.

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