New registration kit for Senegal

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, with support from Microsoft, has deployed a new version of our computerized refugee registration field kit first used last summer during the Kosovo emergency.

In cooperation with the government of Senegal, Refugee Field Kit 2000 will be used in four cities across Senegal to register an estimated 5,000 refugees and asylum-seekers and to provide them with photo identification cards. As we saw in Kosovo, the loss of identification is often a major problem in refugee emergencies. Testing of the new version is set to begin in Senegal on Monday (January 31).

Refugee Field Kit 2000 has been developed with Microsoft, building on the technology solution we used in Kosovo. Using the valuable lessons learned from that project, and in accordance with UNHCR's specifications, the company's software development teams have worked to create version 2.0 of the system for the registration effort in Senegal. As they did in the Balkans, Microsoft volunteers will assist in training UNHCR staff in the field and help with on-site deployment of the kits. UNHCR has identified a number of additional countries that will also benefit from the system later this year.

Microsoft contributed $3.5 million for last summer's Kosovar Refugee Registration Project, not including volunteer staff time. Software development costs for version 2.0 of the Refugee Field Kit 2000 amount to another $100,000, again not including volunteer staff time.

High Commissioner Sadako Ogata has described the use of this technology to assist refugees in often remote and difficult places not normally associated with computing as a breakthrough and proof that we can make a difference in non-traditional ways.