Pakistan government and UNHCR complete biometric registration drive for Afghan refugees
The United Nations is trumpeting the success of a drive to register refugees in Pakistan for biometric smartcards, which was recently completed by the government with the support of UNHCR.
The Government of Pakistan has now verified demographic and biometric data collected from 1.4 million refugees who have left Afghanistan over the past decade, according to a UN announcement.
The program began on April 15, 2021 after a short pilot, and was completed on December 31. Provisional results indicate 1.25 million Afghan refugees updated their data. That total includes 200,000 children under the age of five, who now have official refugee status, according to UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch.
He suggested the ID cards will provide “faster and safer access to education facilities and to banking services.”
The ‘documentation renewal and information verification exercise,’ or DRIVE also gave refugees an opportunity to register specific protection needs and vulnerabilities.
The government and UNHCR carried out a mass education campaign and set up more than 40 verification sites in Pakistan. More than 700,000 biometric ID cards have been issued by NADRA to date, and they will be valid until June 30, 2023. They are compatible with the biometric authentication systems used with the national ID throughout Pakistan.
As of September, 500,000 records had been updated and 100,000 cards issued, out of approximately 2 million Afghan refugees estimated to be in Pakistan at the time.