Saturday, 2 December 2017

Biometric Registration of Ethiopian Refugees

Security for countries receiving refugees. Data sharing: biometric data, family members, education and skills. Multi-year registration strategy. Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS). Just a few keywords from Biometric News. It doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Ethiopian refugees to be registered through biometrics

They came for the refugees first...
First it was the refugees. Then it was employees. Next, they came for the students. And patients. And people in care homes. Then, passengers on public transport. People needing access to their bank accounts. Home owners. Mobile phone users. Holiday bookers. Restaurant patrons. Television watchers. Users of public toilets. Shoppers on the High Street. Pet owners. Breathers of air.

They'll say it is for security. For convenience. For improved service. For better targeted advertising. And so on.

But it started with refugees.

From Biometric News:
Ethiopia to enrol all refugees in new biometric system by end of 2018.

Ethiopia is carrying out a large-scale biometric enrolment project for refugees to deliver better protection and assistance to them in accord with the country’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which addresses the pledges of the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.

More than 100,000 refugees arrived in the country in 2017, and along with other refugees in the country, all are expected to be registered in the Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) by the end of 2018, according to a report published Wednesday by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

An agreement reached between the UNHCR and the country, through the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) on data sharing and a multi-year registration strategy in late 2016 paved the way for the country-wide launch of the new BIMS in July of this year.

Refugees can register iris scans, 10-digit fingerprints, as well as biographical information about their education, skills, and family members at registration centers, potentially enabling them to live outside of the refugee camp, continue their education, or reunite with family members, the UNHCR says.

Earlier this year, UNHCR’s protection chief emphasized that protecting refugees and ensuring the security of their receiving countries are complementary goals.
Dare I even check? Yes. There is a covenant. In September 2016, UN member states pledged their commitments via the UNHCR, to be finalised in two compacts (a type of covenant between nations):
These two separate covenants will result in a new organisation called the International Organisation for Migration*, leading to a final Global Compact via two steps in 2018 as I understand it. Item 6 of the document stresses the importance of civil society, the private sector (corporate), academia, parliaments, diaspora communities (???) to be swept up in the Global Compact, all according to the 'Paris principles'

Tagging, tracking & tracing of human beings
So here, in Ethiopia, we can see the UN's Global Covenant in action. The tagging, tracking and tracing of human beings, a system sold as 'freedom' and 'human rights' to the people, and sold as 'national security' to the countries involved.

* the International Organisation for Migration has hit the ground running. It was established in 2016.

Read more:
The ID2020 Pilot: Refugees
Grenfell Tower Survivors: "Biometrics will be retained" 


The White House pulled out of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a non-binding agreement that Obama signed in 2016.  The US is no longer a member state pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, assist in resettlement, and provide access to education and jobs.  Foreign Policy magazine published the White House explanation: “Our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S.

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