1.4m Afghan refugees begin receiving new smartcards

Published May 26, 2021
In this file photo from September 7, 2016, Afghan refugees wait to register at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) repatriation centre on the outskirts of Peshawar. — AFP/File
In this file photo from September 7, 2016, Afghan refugees wait to register at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) repatriation centre on the outskirts of Peshawar. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) will provide new biometric identity smartcards to 1.4 million Afghan refugees registered in Pakistan.

Nadra began issuing the new smartcards on Tuesday and the process would be completed by the end of the year. The new cards would be valid till 2023.

The new Proof of Registration (PoR) cards are legally recognised proof of identity and include enhanced security features.

This initiative is part of the government-led and UNHCR-supported Documentation Renewal and Information Verification Exercise (DRIVE).

Through the exercise, information about 1.4m registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan would be verified and they would be given new PoR smartcards based on the same technology as Pakistani citizen identification cards.

After going through DRIVE verification interviews, the refugees would be informed through SMS when and from where they could collect their cards.

“The DRIVE exercise is a joint effort between the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and UNHCR, with the technical assistance of Nadra,” said Saleem Khan, the chief commissioner for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

The UNHCR representative in Pakis­tan, Noriko Yoshida, praised the government’s efforts for taking this important step forward, seeing it as an important opportunity to strengthen the protection of refugees and better understand existing needs in the refugee community.

“DRIVE will provide updated information on registered Afghan refugees and their immediate family members in Pakistan. This will allow us to better plan and deliver our support to the government of Pakistan and refugees, as well as the communities hosting them,” he said.

DRIVE is also part of a wider effort to assist displaced Afghans through the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees. The exercise will help collect data on the educational and professional backgrounds of refugees.

This information will enhance support for those who may in the future return voluntarily to Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2021

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