UNHCR Says Biometric Registration is Integral to Refugee Relief Plans

“The organization specifically highlighted the expansion of its Population Registration and Identity Management EcoSystem (PRIMES), an identity management tool that has now been deployed in 58 countries to register 10.5 million individuals.”

UNHCR Says Biometric Registration is Integral to Refugee Relief Plans

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has released a progress report on its Global Strategic Priorities (GSP) for 2018 and 2019, offering an update on its use of biometrics to improve record keeping and registration.

The organization specifically highlighted the expansion of its Population Registration and Identity Management EcoSystem (PRIMES), an identity management tool that has now been deployed in 58 countries to register 10.5 million individuals. Biometric technology is currently being used in 60 unique operations, with 7.2 million biometric records collected thus far.

According to the UNHCR, those records are vital because they help the organization identify areas of concern, which allows it to respond and allocate resources accordingly. The records also protect individual refugees. The creation of a unique biometric identity reduces the threat of identity fraud and makes it easier for people to access essential services like healthcare. For instance, the GSP report suggests that better registration practices and the issuance of birth certificates have lowered child mortality rates and the number of undocumented children more generally.

The use of biometrics has been particularly beneficial in Bangladesh, where more than 250,000 Rohingya refugees have been issued biometric identity cards. That number has doubled since March, suggesting that biometric technology can help process a large number of individuals and will be an increasingly important component of the UNHCR’s relief strategies moving forward.    

June 21, 2019 – by Eric Weiss