UN Official Lauds Benefits of Biometrics in Fight Against Statelessness


UN Official Lauds Benefits of Biometrics in Fight Against Statelessness


Biometric identification is helping to combat statelessness in Africa, with a United Nations official lauding such efforts in a recent speech.

Speaking at the Regional Ministerial-level Meeting on Statelessness in West Africa, the UNHCR Regional Representative for West Africa and Regional Refugee Coordinator for Nigeria Situation, Liz Kpam Ahua, asserted that over a million people in West Africa are stateless, and that 60 million lack identity documentation. “Statelessness has considerable costs in terms of human rights, security, and social and economic development, ” she said, adding later that “[t]he link between statelessness issues and peace and security in the region cannot be stressed enough.”

But there are solutions. Ahua said that “[l]audable efforts are underway to address documentation and nationality issues” in areas affected by a current conflict in the Lake Chad Basin region, highlighted Niger’s “ambitious new project [Recensement Administratif a Vocation Humanitaire (RADH)] which aims to set up a biometric database for the entire population of the Diffa region.”

The statements echo other recent comments from the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk, who recently argued that biometric technology can be used to effectively manage influxes of refugees at a meeting of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. All of which suggests that government and NGO authorities are increasingly recognizing the benefits of biometric technology in crisis management and humanitarian efforts.