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Uganda Launches Biometric Data Verification Of Refugees

The Ugandan government has launched a large-scale biometric data programme to verify the identities of all refugees in the country.

With support from the UNHCR and the World Food Programme, government officials will collect fingerprints and eye scans of more than one million refugees.

Jenipher Mutamba fled the DR Congo seven years ago.

She is one of the refugee volunteers here at the Oruchinga Settlement, in South Western Uganda.

She has joined government officials and humanitarian agencies to begin the seven months long operation.

She believes the process will improve the welfare of refuges in Uganda.

“The problem refugee’s face is that they have nowhere to call home, they are forced to move from place to place… this is why we support this verification. UNHCR has a global system so that is a refugee comes to Uganda, and then they know this is their new home, they can settle.” Jenipher Mutamba, a volunteer said.

Uganda is using the UN Refugee agency’s biometric registration software.

It has already been used to register some 4.4 million refugees in 48 countries worldwide.

The verification exercise in Uganda is the biggest in the agency’s history.

“This is important to us to increase the accountability and transparency not only to the government and UNHCR and Partners, but also the donors who are very key in our operation”, Douglas Asiimwe, Uganda’s refugee protection officer said.

The new verification comes amid concerns that the country is inflating refugee numbers in order to access support.

Refugees who are now verified and registered will receive new ration cards.

“This exercise will help us build a good data set for Uganda and ensure that their model for supporting refugees, where they give them freedom of movement, the right to work and provide this open settlement approach, is also sustained.”Bornwell Kantande, UNHCR representative said.

The exercise will be carried out in all refugee settlements and among urban refugees in the capital, Kampala.

This operation is expected to be completed in September this year, with six teams working simultaneously to register 18,000 people a day. And the UN Refugee Agency says the new biometric identification will be used to provide and improve assistance to each individual

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