PESHAWAR: The Government of Pakistan, together with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), has decided to temporarily postpone the commencement of the “Documentation Renewal and Information Verification Exercise” (DRIVE) due to a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The card renewal and verification exercise for Afghan refugees was set to formally begin on 1 April, 2021 (today).

The Government of Pakistan and UNHCR remain committed to the DRIVE exercise, which will be undertaken as soon as conditions permit.

Registered Afghan refugees holding Proof of Registration (PoR) cards with an expiry date of 31 December, 2015 will be informed of the commencement of the exercise in due course, says a press release.

Afghan refugees may call the following helpline 0800-11122 for more details. They can also visit UNHCR’s website (www.unhcrpk.org/drive) for updates.

Pakistan hosts more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees that are PoR cardholders.

With the cooperation of Pakistan government, the UNHCR had commenced a campaign, for the renewal of POR cards of Afghan refugees based in Pakistan and to make identifiable through biometric verification. For this practice, the UNHCR had set up 40 centres all over the country with the cooperation of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), Afghan Commissionerate and Safron (States and Frontier Regions) Ministry, among which 21 centres are set up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to the UN refugee agency, some of the centres had practically started the process, although the regular process of making biometric cards was expected to start from April 01 and was to continue for a maximum of six months, but restrictions of coronavirus lockdown came in way.

These cards are granted to those Afghan immigrants only who have the POR cards which got expired on December 21, 2015. Their personal interviews, photographs and fingerprints are necessary for the new card.

Biometric cards are to be issued to almost 1.4 million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, which will provide the government of Pakistan and UNHCR reliable data on the identities of these refugees, promising them health, education and cash assistance in case of voluntary return to Afghanistan. According to the documents of UNHCR, around $96.6 million are required for the completion of this project.

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