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UNHCR biometric program facilitates cash aid delivery to 39K Afghan returnees

UNHCR biometric program facilitates cash aid delivery to 39K Afghan returnees

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says one of its cash-support programs, “Forcibly Returned Afghans Enrollment (FARE)” in Afghanistan, has provided financial succour to almost 40,000 refugees who were forced to return from neighbouring countries for lack of proper documentation.

In a blog post, the UN Refugee Agency narrates that over the past months, the humanitarian intervention in its Pakistan and Afghanistan offices has sought to, among other things, offer cash support to people with specific needs through the use of biometrics.

With 39,000 persons having benefitted from the cash program to date, the UNHCR says the biometrics-based program is designed to enhance its accountability and facilitate quick service delivery to those eligible for it.

The system, officials say, is also helping protect the refugees and asylum seekers from having their data or other identity information stolen by malevolent persons.

The UN body says the assistance program which integrates its Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS), launched in 2015, functions in a way that the data collected from beneficiaries is properly managed to comply with its “strict standard operating procedures to safeguard personal data and ensure fair access to assistance.” A registration drive for the FARE program was completed in 2022.

BIMS, a multimodal biometric system which captures fingerprints, iris and face biometrics, is said to have enrolled at least 13 million people in the 96 humanitarian locations where UNHCR has deployed it. The FARE program is used to either accept or reject people seeking aid, by quickly matching their biometrics with data stored either on ID cards, mobile devices or the BIMS database.

Apart from helping verify beneficiaries for cash assistance, the UNHCR says the BIMS is also useful in identifying and retrieving people’s files in their offices even without physical identification documents.

Generally, the system ensures “accurate, reliable, and inclusive identity management, guaranteeing that assistance reaches its intended recipients amidst the ongoing emergency in Afghanistan.”

The UNHCR has also used biometrics to identify Ukrainian refugees for cash payments.

Afghanistan distributes over 300k digital ID cards in one month

In digital related news in Afghanistan, the country’s National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) says over 300,000 digital ID cards have been distributed to their owners in the past month.

Ariana News reports, quoting an X Post from NSIA, that the cards were distributed in 76 centers across the country, with the capital Kabul issuing the most.

Other provinces where the most digital ID cards have been distributed include Herat (30,000), Balkh (18,000), Nangarhar (15,000) and Kandahar (14,000).

The institution also revealed that data related to birth, marriage, divorce and other civil registration was also updated for 10,000 people within the same period.

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