UNHCR has lauded the government of Pakistan for its campaign to verify and update the data of around 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in the country. The Afghans received smart identity cards.
The campaign began on 15 April 2021 following a short pilot and ended on 31 December 2021, UN refugee agency UNHCR said in an online statement. 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.
700,000 smart ID cards issued
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 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."
Information for personalized assistance
In its statement, UNHCR called the identity cards an "opportunity for Afghan refugees to flag any specific protection needs or vulnerabilities." The "socioeconomic data" gathered with the cards would also "allow for better tailored assistance in Pakistan and for support in case refugees decide to return home."
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.