Can Blockchain Help Solve the Refugee Crisis?

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.

1 thought on “Can Blockchain Help Solve the Refugee Crisis?

  1. kaitlyn healy

    In the article “Can Block Chain Help Solve the Refugee Crisis?” by Joseph Horch gives us a glimpse how the block chain technology can help with the refugee crisis that is not only seen in this country but worldwide. There are over sixty million refugees worldwide and that is a very high number for all these countries to keep track of. When people flee from one country to another the country that accepts them not only takes on the financial burden they also take on the responsibility of the unknown. When the attacks in Paris occurred in 2015 there was a fake passport found with one of the terrorist and this sends a red flag to all countries that our accepting refuges. The problem is that groups such as ISIS could potentially integrate with the refuges and get into a country they want to target with a terrorists attack. This is a very difficult situation because as a human being it is difficult to see people who are so desperate to leave a bad situation and are willing to relocate their entire families and move somewhere that is unknown. Imagine moving to a new country with a different language and not knowing anything about the culture, that would have to be a frightening situation for anyone but yet these people go which leads us to believe they must be fleeing somewhere that is so horrific. We have to also sympathize with the countries and their concerns to keep their citizens safe.

    The idea of using block chain, which is a technology that is difficult to tamper with or erase, could be a huge benefit worldwide. If we could create a system that could track these refugees and have a giant data base this would be a huge safety net that could potentially stop the misuse of identities. The article suggest a giant data base that is not associated with a country but countries could all use, a giant ledger.
    A firm known as Bitnation is doing just this. They are setting up a situation where the refuge can create a worldwide identity and prove who they are. This is a block chain technology that is used and will hopefully ease the concerns of citizens and leaders. The United States is set to accept over ten thousand refuges and to be honest as a citizen I am concerned. I honestly like to think of myself as open minded to the idea of this country being a great melting pot but in 2016 I have doubt to that theory. I love that this technology will be in place but I honestly worry about the millions of citizens who live here, work, contribute, pay taxes and expect their country to keep them safe. I think these refuges should be looked at carefully and made sure we are not going to be putting ourselves in a harmful situation. I also think we could use block chain to track our citizens. I’m sure there are people who won’t agree with me but I think we need to keep track of international travelers. Its amazing when we look at the 911 terrorist and the San Bernardino terrorist how many times they traveled back and forth to countries that harbor terrorist groups and perhaps we can keep a closer eye on patterns.

    This is a tough situation but hopefully the future technology will help keep us all safe and even help authorities keep an eye on terrorist.


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