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Uganda launches major refugee verification operation


The Ugandan government on Thursday launched a large-scale programme to verify the identities of all refugees in the country, using biometric data.

The exercise aims to verify more than one million refugees estimated to be living in the country.

The government is using UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR’s biometric registration software, which has already been used to register some 4.4 million refugees in 48 countries worldwide. The verification exercise in Uganda is the biggest in the agency’s history.

The verification is expected to better assess refugee data in the country, ensuring greater accuracy and efficiency to get refugees the support they need.

“This is important to us to increase the accountability and the transparency not only to the government and UNHCR and partners, but also the donors who are very key in our operation,” said Douglas Asiimwe, Head of Refugee Protection, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda.

The exercise will be carried out in all refugee settlements and among urban refugees living in the capital, Kampala.

“This exercise will help us build a good data set for Uganda and ensure that their model supporting refugees where they give them freedom of movement, the right to work and provide this open settlement approach, is also sustained,” said Bornwell Kantande, the UNHCR Uganda representative.

Jenipher Mutamba fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) seven years ago. Today she is one of the refugee volunteers working with teams in Oruchinga, the first location for the exercise.

“They are forced to move from place to place. This is why we support this verification. UNHCR has a global system so that if a refugee comes to Uganda then they know this is their new home. They can settle down here,” she added.

The verification exercise is scheduled to be completed in the next six months. UN Refugee Agency said six teams of experts will work across the country to register about 18,000 people a day.

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