UNHCR in Jordan use iris scan technology to enable refugees to access funds

UNHCR in Jordan is using iris scan technology to enable refugees to access their funds

In an effort to bring timely assistance to refugees, The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan is using iris scan technology to enable them to access their funds. This means they do not need a bank card or PIN code.

UNHCR Country Representative, Andrew Harper sees the benefits first hand.

SOUNDBITE (English) Andrew Harper, UNHCR Representative in Jordan:

“We are 100% sure that the money that we provide for refugees, reaches the refugee most in need. So we’re finding that this is the most efficient way of providing assistance, the most effective way of providing assistance. We can get cash in 24 hours to refugees. It’s got the lowest overhead. It’s completely secure, and probably one of the most important things is, it reinforces the dignity of the refugee.”

Currently around 23,000 families living in urban areas in Jordan benefit from monthly cash assistance.

For the past two years, Amal has lived in uncertainty.

She fled to Jordan after the war killed her mother, sister and brother.

Here, she’s struggled to find a home for her and her five children.

In Syria, Amal worked as a tailor. They owned a house and a car. Her children went to a private school, but as a refugee in Jordan, she could not afford rent or food.

Evicted from her first apartment, she had to pull her oldest son from school.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Amal, Syrian Refugee:

“I used to borrow money and work doing whatever work was available in people’s houses to pay my debts, but only a part of my debts. And I would let my son work so I could pay for my expenses, but I could not manage. But we have to live, what can we do?”

Late last year, Amal was given a lifeline — UNCHR’s cash assistance program.

A monthly text message from UNHCR alerts her that her money is ready.

A quick scan at the ATM and Amal receives about 140US each month.

The programme has given her children the chance to go back to school and have the same opportunities as their classmates.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Amal, Syrian Refugee:

“What has improved is that I buy clothes for my children and I can afford better food. Even for their school, they needed notebooks and supplies, I wouldn’t be able to afford that. Their lives got a little better. Now they can join their classmates with group breakfasts or school trips. I can manage their needs more. I can give them the feeling that they are the same as their classmates.”

UNHCR Jordan is the first country office to use the iris scan this way.

The assistance is small, but what the refugees get improves their daily lives.

The programme reaches two-thirds of the families in need. The goal for UNHCR is to reach all of them.

STORY: JORDAN / CASH ASSISTANCE

SOURCE: UNHCR

RESTRICTIONS: NONE

LANGUAGE: ARABIC / ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 21 MAY 2015, AMMAN, JORDAN

SHOTLIST:

21 MAY 2015, AMMAN, JORDAN

1. Wide shot, busy streets of Wahdat neighbourhood

2. Various shots, street vendors in Wahdat neighbourhood

3. SOUNDBITE (English) Andrew Harper, UNHCR Representative in Jordan:

“We are 100% sure that the money that we provide for refugees, reaches the refugee most in need. So we’re finding that this is the most efficient way of providing assistance, the most effective way of providing assistance. We can get cash in 24 hours to refugees. It’s got the lowest overhead. It’s completely secure, and probably one of the most important things is, it reinforces the dignity of the refugee.”

4. Med shot, Cairo Amman Bank exterior

5. Wide shot, Amal walking with her son to the bank

6. Med shot, Amal in front of the ATM

7. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Amal, Syrian Refugee:

“I used to borrow money and work doing whatever work was available in people’s houses to pay my debts, but only a part of my debts. And I would let my son work so I could pay for my expenses, but I could not manage. But we have to live, what can we do?”

8. Close up, Amal entering amount of withdrawl

9. Close up, Camera at the ATM

10. Med shot, Amal looking into ATM camera

11. Close up, Amal taking the cash from the ATM

12. Wide shot, Amal walking out of the bank with her son

13. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Amal, Syrian Refugee:

“What has improved is that I buy clothes for my children and I can afford better food. Even for their school, they needed notebooks and supplies, I wouldn’t be able to afford that. Their lives got a little better. Now they can join their classmates with group breakfasts or school trips. I can manage their needs more. I can give them the feeling that they are the same as their classmates.”

14. Med shot, mattress on the floor in Amal’s apartment

15. Various shots, Amal texting with her children around her

SOURCE: CIHAN