Season 6 Episode 5: Biometrics and Refugees

In episode 5 of this season of the Declarations podcast, host Maryam Tanwir and panelist Yasar Cohen-Shah sat down with Belkis Wille, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, and former UN official Karl Steinacker to discuss the collection of refugees’ biometric data. Last Summer, Human Rights Watch reported that a database of biometric data collected by UNHCR from Rohingya refugees had been handed to Myanmar’s government – the very government from which the refugees were fleeing. This scandal has brought to a head the debates surrounding the use of refugees’ biometric data: from Yemen to Afghanistan, Somalia to Syria, biometric data is now fundamental in how aid groups interact with refugees. But how does this affect their human rights, and can it ever be used responsibly?