700,000 Afghan refugees in Pakistan receive smart ID cards

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says Pakistan has issued smart identity cards to 700,000 Afghan refugees in that country.

Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesperson in Pakistan, told reporters that the first phase of issuing new electronic documents and reviewing the information of 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been completed.

He said that the process in partnership with the Pakistani government and support from UNHCR was started on April 15, 2021 and ended on December 31, 2021.

A statement from the organization said that more than 700,000 new smart identity cards have been issued to Afghan refugees and the process would continue until early April this year.

The source said around 1.4 million Afghans have migrated to Pakistan in the last few years and 200,000 among them were children under five years of age who were registered by their parents.

The new smart ID cards which include biometric information would be valid until June 30 of 2023, the source said, adding that Pakistan would use the information for identification of refugees and providing needed services to them.

The UN agency said the new smart identity cards “are an essential protection tool for Afghan refugees and give them faster and safer access to health and education facilities and to banking ervices.” Pakistani government said that over a million Afghans would receive refugees residence cards.