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Ethiopia to give refugees digital ID to improve living conditions

Ethiopia to give refugees digital ID to improve living conditions

Ethiopia is planning to issue digital ID to refugees, in what could be the first program of its kind to ease access to government services and benefits, The Ethiopian Herald reports.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the National Identification Program Office, the Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) and the United Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) stipulates the provision of Ethiopia’s national digital ID, Fayda, to refugees and returnees in the country.

Fayda has been expanding steadily, becoming the main credential for public servants and the official ID for students in September.

RRS Director-General Teyiba Hassan says the goal is to improve the living conditions of the many refugees and returnees sheltering in Ethiopia, and that it reflects the country’s strong relations with its neighbors.

National Identification Program Office Executive-Director Yodahe Zemichael notes that a multilateral data exchange agreement will help refugees open bank accounts, obtain driver’s licenses and access basic services.

Ethiopia plans to issue about 90,000 Fayda digital ID numbers to refugees and returnees over the next three years. The biometric ID should also help prevent fraud against public services.

Cameroon launched a pilot to issue biometric ID cards to 6,000 refugees from the Central African Republic a year ago.

UNHCR’s Andrew Hopkins laid out some of the challenges issuing digital IDs to refugees poses in an ID4Africa Livecast at the end of 2022.

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