The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urging Malaysia’s government to let it introduce a biometric identity card to refugees fleeing from neighboring Myanmar. Most of the refugees are ethnic Rohingya Muslims facing persecution and oppression from the largely Buddhist majority in Myanmar.
The sheer volume of refugees alone is cause for concern among Malaysian authorities and other stakeholders, with the UNHCR having registered over 150,000 – mostly from Myanmar – as of May, and predicting that tens of thousands more could be undocumented. This latter group in particular is vulnerable to human trafficking or getting involved in crime, and so identification is paramount.
While the UNHCR already issues identity cards to refugees, these cards are mostly useful for helping them to find work in informal sectors, and have no legal standing. That’s why the UNHCR is urging the Malaysian government to help it roll out biometric identity cards that could verifiably be connected to each individual, allowing for consistent identification for such purposes as tracking potential criminal activity and administering subsidies and services.
This is a solution that the UNHCR has been pursuing for some time. Following a successful pilot project in the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi, the agency has proceeded to select Accenture as a vendor, with the company’s multimodal Biometric Identity Management System being deployed in conjunction with its Unique Identity Service Platform to help the company collect and analyze refugees’ biometric data. Now, there is an opportunity for this careful preparation to have a powerful impact. The Malaysian government is considering the proposal.
Source: The Malaysian Insider
June 25, 2015 – by Alex Perala