Blockchain deployed to tackle Rohingyas’ existential crisis

August 21, 2018
Chris Wheal

Blockchain’s ability to store personal records across sprawling bureaucracies such as medical networks that involve doctors, pharmacists and insurers could be the inspiration to prevent the worsening of what is already a humanitarian disaster.

Muhammad Noor is leading a blockchain-based project to help restore identities to Rohingya refugees

Rohingya muslim refugees, forcibly removed from their Myanmar homeland where they had already been denied citizenship, are now turning to blockchain technology to help register their existence.

No official documentation

Many found their way to refugee camps in Bangladesh without documentation – no identity cards, passports or even birth certificates.

While Myanmar has now given the refugees permission to return it is still refusing to allow them citizenship and many Rohingyas are, understandably, reluctant to return under such conditions.

This has prompted The Rohingya Project, an initiative to empower the stateless exiles, to launch an initiative to find a digital solution to their existential crisis.

Digital identity cards

Led by Muhammad Noor, and reported in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, the project is trialling the use of digital ID cards on a blockchain ledger, giving the Rohingya power to reclaim their identities that their host countries will recognise.

Humanitarian institutions are not strangers to blockchain – it has been used by charities to make cheap and secure cross-border cash transfers to be spent on aid. But its use as ledger to record and restore the official identities of stateless people would be a first.

It is hoped initiatives such as the Rohingya Project will help dispossessed people, who normally live on society’s periphery, to be more visible to employers and housing authorities when they eventually find somewhere they can call home.


Picture courtesy of The Rohingya Project

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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