Look me in the eyes and I will tell you who you are

Pierre Portelange

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.

This child is having his ocular identity taken in Amman registration centre. It is sometimes a challenge. Picture by Ann Luyckx.

This child is having his ocular identity taken in Amman registration centre. It is sometimes a challenge. Picture by Ann Luyckx.

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.

One of the withdrawal machines with the Iris technology

One of the withdrawal machines with the Iris technology

This enables the organisations to put their energy into listening to the refugees (with home visits) instead of spending their time distributing the allocations.

Our group is really impressed by this technology and ask a lot of questions of the UNHCR worker. Iris, our colleague, really likes the name of Iris Guard, the name of the system, very well found! Picture by Ann Luyckx.

Our group is really impressed by this technology and ask a lot of questions of the UNHCR worker. Iris, our colleague, really likes the name of Iris Guard, the name of the system, very well found! Picture by Ann Luyckx.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre Portelange

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pierre Portelange

I have worked at IKEA Anderlecht for nine years, currently as a BAM Logistics. I am very excited to go to Jordan because I like to discover new things and to meet new people. For sure I will be surprised by the people I am going to meet. Outside of work I like to do capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) and I am also active in a role playing game association. I hope I can bring back lots of stories to tell to my colleagues of IKEA Belgium.

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