UNHCR Lauds Pakistan For Issuing Smartcards to Afghan Refugees

UNHCR on Wednesday lauded the government of Pakistan for its country-wide campaign to verify and update the data of some 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees and to issue them with smart identity cards. 

The UN refugee agency in a statement said the campaign began on 15 April 2021 following a short pilot and ended on 31 December 2021. It was the first large-scale verification of refugees in Pakistan in the last ten years, according to UNHCR.

According to provisional results, the data of 1.25 million Afghan refugees was updated and expanded as a result of the campaign. The figure included 200,000 children under the age of five who were registered by their refugee parents.

According to UNHCR, more than 700,000 new smart identity cards have been issued to date.

The remaining cards will be printed and distributed in early 2022. These cards, which will be valid until June 30, 2023, contain biometric data and are technologically compatible with systems used in Pakistan to authenticate the identities of nationals, the statement added.

The UN agency said the new smart identity cards “are an essential protection tool for Afghan refugees and give them faster and safer access to health and education facilities and to banking services.”

According to UNHCR, more than 40 verification sites were in service across Pakistan during the campaign. In addition, mobile registration vans helped Afghan refugees living in remote areas.

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