The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed the launch of a country-wide campaign in Pakistan in order to verify and update the data of some 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, including the issuance of smart identity cards.
The exercise will enhance the efforts of Pakistan, with UNHCR’s support, to enhance protection for refugees. The new smartcards will enable refugees to access critical services.
According to Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, “Pakistan is a global leader in refugee protection and continues to pioneer efforts to find solutions and support inclusion for people forced out of their homes by a prolonged conflict,” added, “This step will allow refugees to have better, faster and safer access to services, including schools, hospitals and banks.”
Officially known as the documentation renewal and information verification exercise (DRIVE), the campaign will continue for at least 6 months, renewing and updating information on Afghan refugees who currently hold Proof of Registration (PoR) smart cards.
New smartcards will be issued to registered refugees with the capacity to hold biometric data. These cards will be valid for two years and will be technologically compatible with systems used in Pakistan to authenticate the identities of nationals to access services.
At some 35 sites around the country, 600 staff, a combination of government and UNHCR, will be working. They will be using mobile registration vehicles, to support refugees throughout the process. Both male and female staff will be on hand to assist.
Measures are in place at all DRIVE sites to alleviate COVID-19 risks through boosted hygiene, physical distancing, and the scheduling of set numbers of appointments each day.
More detailed information about Afghan refugees’ educational and professional backgrounds will let better personalized refugee assistance in Pakistan as well as enhanced support for those who may in the future return voluntarily to Afghanistan.