- The operational context during February was marked mainly by small-scale attacks, evictions, drought and the drying up the Shabelle river.
- Consequently, February witnessed a slight increase in displacements, in cases of Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD)/Cholera, and severe water shortages.
- Monitoring agencies reported that food security improved but in the absence of assistance food security would deteriorate significantly.
Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) for Cash-based Interventions
In February, UNHCR started to use the Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS), which identifies persons of concern through their fingerprints and irises prior to Cash-based Interventions (CBIs). The BIMS is a verification system that ensures that UNHCR and partners are able to identify returnee and ensures that assistance reaches to the right individuals. Through the introduction of BIMS, significant improvements were made to the payment process. One of the advantages is also that cash assistance is now made through individual bank accounts for returnees, which enhances the dignity and self-esteem of returnees and supports socio-economic recovery and stabilization of Somalia.
UNHCR and Standard Chartered bank (in Kenya) have an agreement within which a local bank, Amal is the executor of payments inside Somalia. Receiving money through bank accounts at Amal bank branches allows persons of concern to receive text messages on their phones informing them that cash has been deposited in their individual bank accounts. Returnees are issued with a ‘bank card’ with their account number and once bank accounts are funded the returnees can approach any Amal branch and receive cash assistance upon presentation of the Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF), now approved by the Central Bank of Somalia as an identity document. Returnees can receive their cash assistance at the nearest pay point. Over 100 pay points are already available across Somalia for use.
At the end of 2017, UNHCR Somalia became the largest UNHCR operation using CBIs in Africa and the fifth largest in the world. Only in 2017, UNHCR provided assistance in the amount of over US$ 27.7 million to around 83,000 persons of concern (16,500 families).