The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has completed its rollout of a biometric identification system for refugees in Thailand. The system has now provided identification for almost 110,000 refugees, including many from Myanmar.
The project was undertaken with the cooperation of the Royal Thai Government as well as NGOs supporting the UNHCR, and uses Accenture’s Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) as its central technological platform. Its aim is essentially to provide a more reliable means of identification for the many tens of thousands of refugees, which helps both the refugees themselves and the government and agencies trying to assist and manage the refugee population. The irises and fingerprints of each refugee are scanned for enrolment into the system and issuance of an individual smart card containing important biographical data and photographs – and the ID card can be reissued at any time if it is lost or damaged.
While Thailand represents the first site of what is expected to be an expanding biometric identification program, the UNHCR did perform an extensive and successful pilot project in Malawi. Now, the agency is urging other governments to adopt the system, perhaps most urgently in Malaysia, where many of the Rohingya minority refugees from Myanmar are now fleeing.
July 2, 2015 – by Alex Perala