The UN is testing a new way of keeping track of who is who in refugee camps around the world, but here is the hitch—they first must have real proof of who you really are. They don’t say that of course, but that is the ultimate problem with the system. You could be anyone who shows up at a camp and reports that you have no papers (you were running for your life, but maybe you have a criminal record in S. Africa), give a name, any name, and soon have a rock solid identity and a UN ID card.
Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be great to have such an ID (with Iris data!) to vote in the US (of course with the proper paperwork to prove who you are in the first place and that you are a legal citizen). Walk in, have your Iris scanned and then vote!
From Iritech Inc. (Hat tip: Joanne):
DZALEKA, Malawi, January 22 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has completed initial testing of a new biometrics system that should help it better register and protect people, verify their identity and target assistance for the forcibly displaced in operations around the world.
The identification management tool, which is being developed by UNHCR with a private sector company, was tested here at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi last month. It stores fingerprints, iris data and photographs for facial recognition and will include an emergency feature to aid in fixing populations in advance of full registration. For refugees without ID, this becomes a vital record.
Refugees questioned by UNHCR said they were happy because now there was a permanent record of their identity. Many refugees lose their documents during flight and this can cause them problems later and restrict access to aid and protection. “I can be someone now. I am registered globally with the UN and you’ll always know who I am,” said 43-year-old Congolese refugee Olivier Mzaliwa, echoing the thoughts of other refugees.
But, is Olivier really who he told them he was?
I have become such a cynic!