UNHCR Uses Iris Biometrics to Register Displaced Syrian Refugees

Biometrics NewsIris Recognition

Biometrics News - UNHCR Uses Iris Biometrics to Register Displaced Syrian Refugees
© UNHCR/Firas Al-Khateeb

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported that more than 1,600 Syrian refugees have been transported to the Bardarash Refugee Camp in Iraq after fleeing violence in northern Syria. Hundreds more are arriving on a daily basis, though they represent only a small fraction of the 166,000 people that have been displaced since fighting broke out in Syria over the past seven days.  

While the UNHCR has been providing aid to displaced civilians in Iraq and Syria, those who make it to the Bardaresh Refugee Camp are being registered with iris recognition. The effort is part of the UNHCR’s initiative to provide refugees with a secure biometric identity and raise inclusion for those without paper identification. The scope of the UNHCR program has been expanding for the past few years, with internal documents revealing that 80 percent of UNHCR refugees over the age of five now have a biometric identity.  

The UNHCR has already issued biometric IDs to more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The latest news demonstrates that the UN Refugee Agency is looking to implement the same policies in other parts of the world.

The UNHCR has argued that biometric IDs will be essential for future relief efforts. The technology is expected to reduce the threat of fraud and facilitate the efficient distribution of vital goods and services like food and healthcare.   

October 18, 2019 – by Eric Weiss