Kavita Belani, Aradhana Jena, Aaishani Kabu, Teena Joseph – UNHCR
Four women are working around the clock to implement biometric identification for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi, India. Kavita Belani, Aradhana Jena, Teena Joseph, and Aaishani Kabu saw a need for biometrics in 2014 and collaborated on a roadmap for implementation. UNHCR’s global biometric identity management system (BIMS) was introduced in the country a year later.
The team members are working to fully integrate the use of biometrics – registration, identification, verification – into all business processes in India. They’ve collected all ten fingerprints, both irises, and a photo from more than 18,000 people living in exile. They regularly lead missions to remote settlements, yielding legal and social benefits for refugees. “The Rohingya refugee population obtained Indian long-stay visas for the first time due to strengthened government confidence in UNHCR’s data and identity management system,” the team writes.
The UNHCR India’s team proudest accomplishment:
“After successfully giving permanent biometric identities to the previously isolated refugee communities living in utter poverty far from the urban capital, we were able to ensure admission of their children in government primary schools using reliable data collected through biometrics. This example along with many others leading to the issuance of permanent identity recognition from the host government and the issuance of long stay visas are all very proud moments for both the refugee communities and for us as humanitarian workers.”
The people being helped by this mission have been forcibly displaced – losing their homes, countries, and families. “Their desires are the same as all of us. They want to feel safe and to live with dignity,” the team writes. “We will continue to advocate for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, by using reliable data and building upon UNHCR’s global biometric identity management capacity to support our work.”
The team wants to acknowledge the support provided by colleagues who helped ensure a smooth implementation of the biometrics project: Ajit Dogra, Kiri Atri, Amit Kumar, Pankaj Kumar Singh, and Mani Pandian.