Pakistan steps up biometric registration of Afghan refugees, Taliban permits existing ID
Pakistan has updated the details of 500,000 or more than a third of the registered Afghan refugees living in the country and issued 100,000 biometric smartcards, reports the UNHCR. The announcement of the progress of its Documentation Renewal and Information Verification Exercise (DRIVE) in collaboration with the UNHCR, is part of the stepping up of the process as more Afghan refugees are expected. Meanwhile the Taliban has said existing national ID credentials in Afghanistan remain valid for the time being.
In May 2021 Pakistan began issuing new biometric Proof of Residence (PoR) smartcards to the 1.4 million pre-registered refugees. The cards use the same technology as the general national ID system and compatible with it, and are the first major update to refugee registration since 2007. The scheme is intended to help refugees access services, health and education.
35 registration centers, four mobile units and 600 staff are working to meet the goal of updating records and collecting information such as educational level as well as capturing biometrics of the remaining pre-registered refugees by the end of the year.
Another 1.5 million undocumented Afghans are believed to be living in the country according to government sources, reports InfoMigrants. Pakistan shut its border with Afghanistan in recent months as towns continued to fall to the Taliban.
The UNHCR warns that a worst-case scenario would see a further 515,000 Afghan refugees crossing its borders, as well as there being 558,000 internally displaced persons
In May the country made ID a requirement for COVID vaccination
Pakistan recently launched a mobile app to allow users to perform biometric verification and enrolment.
Afghan biometric ID remains legal document
The new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has said the previously issued national identity cards and passports are valid “for the time being,” reports Afghanistan’s Khaama Press News Agency.
The agency reports that Taliban spokesperson and Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, Zabiullah Mujahid said the documents are still valid legal documents. The ID card and passport offices remain closed and only those who have previously registered their biometrics can obtain passports and ID cards.