UN, Ethiopian Agencies Leverage Biometrics to Help Refugees

A new biometric registration system for refugees is rolling out across Ethiopia.

UN, Ethiopian Agencies Leverage Biometrics to Help RefugeesThe Biometric Identity Management System is the product of a partnership between the UNHCR – the United Nations’ refugee agency – and Ethiopia’s Refugee and Returnee Affairs department. It collects the fingerprint and iris data of all registrants, as well as biographic information including their professional skills and education levels. The aim is to have all refugees who arrive in the country this year registered by the end of next year – an anticipated 100,000 people.

The information collected using the BIMS, and its reliability, offer substantial benefits, with the UNHCR asserting in a statement that it can “potentially unlock greater opportunities for all refugees, including the right to live outside of the camp or to advance their education.” In some case, it could even be used to reunite family members that have become separated.

The effort reflects the UNHCR’s growing enthusiasm for biometric identification technology and the benefits it offers in managing and aiding refugee populations, with detailed data now also being collected through a biometric registration program for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, it helps partner governments to ensure compliance with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework hammered out at the 2016 Leader’s Summit.

Most importantly, for refugees, the program offers a reliable means of identification that should help them to access critical services as they seek to move forward and rebuild.

Source: UNHCR

November 30, 2017 – by Alex Perala