Earlier this week French officials announced that they would begin clearing out “The Jungle,” a refugee camp near the port city of Calais. More than 6,000 refugees ranging from Eritrea to South Sudan are set to be dispersed around France, many of these refugees are without proofs of citizenship and legally speaking they do not exist.
In June of 2016, The Atlantic reported that according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees there are an estimated 60 million refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide, the highest number since World War II.
Since 2015 over one million refugees have arrived in Europe alone. With the spread of terrorist organizations like ISIS, many Europeans fear that terrorists could be crossing the borders disguised as refugees. It is worth noting that in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks a fake Syrian passport was found next to one of the assailants. Thus suspensions have been raised about migrants entering countries. Are these people who they claim to be? Where did they come from? Who is a danger and who is not?
Lack of ID creates problems for border countries, refugees, and the relief organizations attempting to help. Blockchain technology could assist in resolving all of these issues.
Identity is assigned and recognized by governments and governments only, and without a relationship to the state, you essentially are no one. Because blockchain relies on a network with no government or institutional association, it creates a decentralized data structure. Thus, who you are is no longer reliant on a relationship to a state, but rather an information contained in a trustworthy and accessible ledger.
With a distributed database a refugee could arrive in Greece, a popular destination for refugees fleeing by sea, border officials could check identity on their copy of the ledger housing the ID of a refugee. And because blockchain is almost tamper-proof, the refugee could present a far more compelling story of who they are.
Furthermore, because blockchain can handle digital assets of all sorts, relief organization and NGO’s could wire money to refugees who most likely have no money.
One firm has attempted to solve this problem Bitnation:
“BitNation, a blockchain-based Governance 2.0 initiative, is using the blockchain to help refugees in Europe. The organization’s new series of Refugee Emergency Response services allow refugees to create a digital identity, which can be used to cryptographically prove their existence and who their families are.” – Huffington Post
This is the process refugees have to face while trying to enter the U.S.
Ideally blockchain technology could ease the process for refugees attempting to enter the U.S. especially with the pledge to accept 10,000 refugees.
Blockchain can help ease political turmoil of all kinds and create a world in which a refugee, despite the collapse of their national state, can maintain their identity and dignity.