Pakistan launches drive to issue new smart cards to 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees
“Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades, and a lot had changed since the last verification exercise 10 years ago,” said the minister.
Pakistan has launched a nationwide verification exercise for the 1.4 million Afghan refugees in the country to distribute new smartcards among them. This was revealed via a statement issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday. The Documentation Renewal & Information Verification Exercise (DRIVE) was inaugurated by the Federal Minister for States & Frontier Region, Mehboob Sultan, in the presence of the UNHCR Representative, Noriko Yoshida. “Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades, and a lot had changed since the last verification exercise 10 years ago,” said the minister. “It is important that we update the data of Afghan refugees to know their situation better.” The UN refugee agency also underscored the necessity of the program by mentioning its administrative significance. “The DRIVE exercise is a leap forward for everyone,” Yoshida noted. “This step will allow refugees to have better, faster, and safer access to services, including schools, hospitals, and banks.” The UNHCR representative added that the exercise would help verify existing data and record the skillsets of Afghan refugees, their education level, and socio-economic circumstances. This would provide refugees with more targeted health, education, and livelihood support in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Sultan urged all Afghans with Proof of Registration cards to fully participate in the exercise. Around six hundred female and male staff – a combination of government and UNHCR personnel – will be operating at some 35 DRIVE verification sites around the country. Measures have also been taken at all DRIVE sites to decrease COVID-19 risks via enhanced hygiene, physical distancing, and the scheduling of set numbers of appointments each day.
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