United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Accenture Deliver Global Biometric Identity Management System to Aid Displaced Persons

20 May, 2015

GENEVA–(BUSINESS WIRE) –The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is working with Accenture (NYSE:ACN) to deliver a biometric technology system for registering and verifying the identities of displaced persons around the world, enabling UNHCR to provide refugees with the assistance they require where and when needed.

Under the terms of the three-year contract, which was secured after a competitive tendering process, UNHCR will deploy Accenture’s Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) across UNHCR global operations. The system captures and stores fingerprints, iris data and facial images of individuals, providing those who are often undocumented with their only personal identity record.

UNHCR’s deployment of BIMS has already commenced with refugee camp locations in Thailand and Chad. The expansion of BIMS into Chad will enable the enrollment and formal identification of 450,000 people resident in more than 19 refugee camps. To date in 2015, more than 100,000 residents in Chad, and more than 120,000 people within nine camps in Thailand, have had their identities verified, with the system handling approximately 2,500 enrollments per day.

BIMS leverages the Unique Identity Service Platform (UISP), a software offering developed by Accenture, which works in conjunction with UNHCR’s existing case management system. BIMS links verification stations in UNHCR offices and camps around the world back to a central biometric database in Geneva. Accenture will also provide UNHCR with on-going system maintenance and user training for BIMS.

“Fleeing across borders, refugees often leave documentation behind, lose it along the way or have it confiscated by authorities,” said Steven Corliss, UNHCR’s director of Program and Management Support. “With Accenture’s Biometric Identity Management System, we are using advanced technology to secure and preserve the identity of refugees from the time they register with UNHCR until they find a solution by returning home, integrating in the country where they have found protection, or resettling in a new country.”

Ger Daly, managing director of Accenture’s global Public Safety business, said, “This is a great example of how we use digital innovation to improve peoples’ lives and make a real difference in the world. By applying emerging technologies in biometrics capture and large-scale identity matching, BIMS will help UNHCR register and identify refugees and channel the delivery of aid to those people most in need.”

An early version of BIMS was piloted successfully at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi in late 2013, despite significant logistical and technical challenges in maintaining power, equipment and online connectivity in remote areas. During the pilot program, which lasted four weeks, more than 17,000 people enrolled their biometric data and had their identities verified. The results of the pilot demonstrated the feasibility of biometric management in field conditions that were highly challenging for biometric capture.

“After reviewing the results of the trial in Malawi and making recommendations for improvements, we are moving forward and deploying a single global biometrics system for the agency that is fast, intuitive, secure, mobile and durable in varied and challenging environments,” said Doug Greene, UNHCR’s chief information officer. “We have now initiated a global roll-out of the system commencing in Thailand and Chad.”

Accenture is working with other vendors on the projects, including WCC Smart Search & Match, Green Bit, GenKey, Warwick Warp, IriTech, SmartSensors and Cognitec.

Learn more about Accenture’s global Public Safety business and Delivering Public Service for the Future.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 323,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$30.0 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2014. Its home page is www.accenture.com.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people. In more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Today, a staff of some 8,600 people in more than 125 countries continues to help some 33.9 million persons. Learn more at http://www.unhcr.org and http://www.facebook.com/UNHCR.

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