In the picture, a demonstration of a blockchain-based digital ID. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/EPA/ALEXANDRA WEY
In the picture, a demonstration of a blockchain-based digital ID. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/EPA/ALEXANDRA WEY

An article published by the World Economic Forum said blockchain technology can help refugees by solving the most critical problems they face.

Technology known as Blockchain - a process enabling users to access a virtual database through which each participant has a copy of the data - ''could help millions of refugees, by solving some of the most critical problems they face'', according to Ahmas Sufian Bayram who wrote an article for the World Economic Forum to explain how the system can solve the main problems affecting refugees. 


1 . DOCUMENTS

The article noted that when refugees are forced to abandon their homes, many leave behind important documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports and ID cards. These are nearly impossible to retrieve after leaving the country, assuming they have not already been destroyed, it said. 

The blockchain can host and transact unlimited amounts of valued assets through its publicly distributed ledger. Among these building blocks is data that cannot be forged, the article noted. Identities verified on the blockchain cannot be forged and are time-stamped and public, it said. 

Host governments and support organizations could start issuing digitally-authenticated identification documents based on the blockchain. Refugees could use these documents to prove their identity and that of their families, open bank accounts, sign contracts or apply to university. 

2 - HUNGER. 

The article reported that almost 22.5 million refugees need daily support from NGOs and international organizations, according to UNHCR. These organizations face numerous challenges while distributing aid. They need to keep track of all transactions made in stores and marketplaces to define and approve purchases, in order to guarantee the proper use of funds and avoid mismanagement. 

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has directed resources to thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan, one of the largest-ever implementations of the Ethereum blockchain for a charitable cause. It gave refugees cryptocurrency-based vouchers that could be redeemed in participating markets, which made transactions faster while lowering the chance of fraud or data mismanagement, the article said. 

3 - WORK

The report noted that many challenges prevent refugees from becoming part of the workforce, such as learning the local language and new skills. These issues aside, many refugees are still in the process of having their asylum applications processed, years after arrival, and therefore have limited access to work. 

As a distributed public ledger capable of recording transactions securely, blockchain offers more transparency and collaboration between governments, businesses and citizens. Blockchain's smart contracts can automatically carry out certain functions, if predefined conditions have been met. 

Governments could, for example, create ''blockchain work permits'' for refugees, the article reported. These would reportedly enable refugees to deal with employers or businesses directly, even for small tasks, and set up real-time tax payments when they receive income.
 

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