Thursday, March 24, 2011

Moldova: UN refugee agency uses ATM cards to distribute aid to beneficiaries

Asylum-seekers in Moldova can, beginning this week, receive their monthly subsistence allowances from the United Nations refugee agency through a debit card system that the agency has initiated to expedite the distribution of the cash support.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Moldova is the first country in Europe where it has implemented the debit card scheme to streamline the distribution of its monthly financial support through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

The system was launched on Monday by UNHCR, in cooperation with BCR Chisinau bank, and will enable needy refugees, asylum-seekers and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection to receive debit cards which they can use to withdraw their monthly allowances.

“UNHCR is very pleased to launch this initiative in Moldova as it enables people to withdraw funds at nearby ‘bankomats’ at their convenience rather than having to commute to a central distribution point to collect the allowance,” said Peter Kessler, the UNHCR representative in Moldova.

“Refugees have often suffered indignities and find it difficult to integrate in a new, safe host country. Having these cards is another step towards helping them more actively participate in daily life and maintain a greater degree of dignity,” added Mr. Kessler.

The refugees receive 500-600 Moldovan leu (€30-€36) per person each month. In addition to the UNHCR monthly financial support, vulnerable refugee families may also receive food packages, milk for children, kits for new-born infants and hygiene supplies for women and girls.