Government to issue smart cards for Afghan refugees under verification exercise

ISLAMABAD: The government has announced to issue new smart cards for Afghan refugees who possess Proof of Registration (PoR) cards.

The Chief Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees (CCAR), Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), with the support of UNHCR, will start “Document Renewal and Information Verification Exercise” (DRIVE), from April 1, 2021, said a press release.

During that six-month exercise, NADRA will verify and update the data of registered Afghan refugees who are in possession of a PoR card with an expiry date of 31 December 2015. The initiative takes place within the framework of the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, fostering renewed partnerships and stronger strategic linkages between humanitarian and development investments.

In addition to validating existing data, the verification will record Afghan refugees’ skill sets, level of education, socio-economic circumstances and sources of income, allowing better targeted health, education and livelihood support in Pakistan and in the Priority Areas of Return and Reintegration in Afghanistan.

As many as 40 DRIVE centres were being set up across the country. Upon verification of their data, these Afghan refugees will receive new PoR smartcards.

The new smartcards will provide Afghan refugees with renewed proof of their identity, enhancing their protection in Pakistan, and will help facilitate identity authentication making access to services faster, safer and more effective.

“This is a long-overdue exercise. It’s been 10 years since the last such initiative. It’s crucial at this juncture to update the data of Afghan refugees. I commend the international community for supporting this important exercise, ” said Saleem Khan, the Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan.

The UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Noriko Yoshida, appreciated the government for this initiative to help improve the lives of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

The designated NADRA Spokesperson said that the multi-biometric PoR cards will be issued as part of this exercise. Specialized staff and state-of-art infrastructure will be utilized.

Pakistan was hosting 1.4 million Afghan refugees who hold PoR cards, it mentioned.