In Amman registration centre, 3,000 refugees who are not living in a camp pass by daily. In fact, our group was quite surprised to learn that 85% of the refugees don’t live in a camp but in urban areas.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) uses an innovative system of biometric retina recognition to register refugees. We have been very impressed by the innovative, simple and efficient aspect of it. With children, it is sometimes a whole game to catch their look.
The system is already working in several countries and prevents fraud. Other uses exist, or will come, like payment in supermarket or gas distribution to cook in the camps.
This technology also allows UNHCR to give appropriate help to a lot of refugees. A withdrawal system has been set up in partnership with Cairo-Amman Bank ATM. Refugees can now safely withdraw their monthly allowance this way. In 2016, 33 million dollars have already been given out using biometric eye recognition.
This enables the organisations to put their energy into listening to the refugees (with home visits) instead of spending their time distributing the allocations.
This system boosts the local economy and reinforces the link between the refugees and the local community. They buy locally what they really need and not the things that the organisations think is useful (usually coming from abroad with huge logistics costs).
Giving refugees the means to handle their own needs is absolutely necessary to give them self-confidence and to give them back their dignity. It is an additional step towards the autonomy they all wish to recover.