Global refugee crisis highlights urgent need for better identity verification

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Identification establishes a person’s name, nationality, and legal rights. With thousands of refugees fleeing Syria and other countries each week, the need for accurate identity management and verification is urgent. The problem is exacerbated by already pervasive under-documentation in the developing world. Globally, 48 million children are unregistered at birth, with the highest numbers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, in collaboration with other Harvard Schools, will host the conference 21st Century Identification Systems: Data–Politics–Protectionon November 19–21, 2015. The event will bring together experts from academia, government, business, and nongovernmental agencies to examine the scientific, technical, social, and political aspects of national ID systems. Register here.

Leading up to the conference, the FXB Center is publishing blog posts from experts in the field. The first, by biometrics expert Justin Hughes and Andrew Hopkins of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), looks at biometric solutions for identity verification that have been deployed by UNHCR in refugee camps.