Pakistan completes 'DRIVE' to issue Afghan refugees with smart cards

Pakistan completes 'DRIVE' to issue Afghan refugees with smart cards
Afghan refugees receiving the first new PoR smartcards at the Documentation Renewal and Information Verification Exercise (DRIVE) Centre in Islamabad. © UNHCR/A. Shahzad
Pakistan completes 'DRIVE' to issue Afghan refugees with smart cards

Upton 700,000 Afghan refugees have received their smart cards

ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan has completed the countrywide campaign to verify and update the data of some 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees and to issue them with smart identity cards.

According to UNHCR's statement, during the documentation renewal and information verification exercise (DRIVE) program the data of 1.25 million Afghan refugees was updated and expanded; among them were 200,000 children under the age of five who were registered by their refugee parents. 

The DRIVE began on 15 April 2021 and ended on 31 December 2021. It was the first large-scale verification of refugees in Pakistan in the last 10 years. 

As per the provision data, more than 700,000 new smart identity cards have also been issued to date. The remaining cards will be printed and distributed in early 2022. 

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 services.  

DRIVE also provided an opportunity for Afghan refugees to flag any specific protection needs or vulnerabilities. More detailed information about refugees’ socioeconomic data will allow for better tailored assistance in Pakistan and for support in case refugees decide to return home, when conditions allow. 

Afghan refugees receiving the first new PoR smartcards at DRIVE Centre in Islamabad. © UNHCR/A.Shahzad

 Over 40 verification sites were operational across Pakistan during DRIVE, while mobile registration vans facilitated verifications for Afghan refugees living in remote areas. A mass information campaign was also carried out to explain to Afghan refugees about the purpose of the campaign and how to participate. 

 Strict measures were in place at all sites to mitigate COVID-19 risks through enhanced hygiene, physical distancing, and the scheduling of set numbers of appointments each day during the exercise.