Deborah Harmes, Ph.D.
Slowly but surely, blockchain implementation is appearing in various relief agencies, including those sponsored by the United Nations. The UNHCR, United Nations Refugee Agency, was interviewed at the end of 2017 about this topic and expressed a commitment to move forward with caution — but work towards an increased use of blockchain technology. This follows the successful implementation of identity processing for Syrian refugees last year.
The often under-reported situation with the Rohingya refugees began in August of 2017 and is still ongoing. The UNHCR is on the ground and attempting to make a difference in the lives of these traumatised people. Within the country of Myanmar, the Muslim minority group is classified as stateless. It would appear that the government has systematically oppressed these people that it regards as outsiders. The United Nations estimates that well over 650,000 people have fled across the border into Bangladesh during the military crackdown of the last seven months.
When the BBC attempted to do live interviews and coverage in Myanmar in January 2018, they were denied entry and refused the right to talk to members of the minority group. But as far back as 2016, UN officials had stated that the Myanmar government was engaging in a concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Rather worryingly, reports began to emerge on DW (Deutsche Welle — Germany’s international broadcaster) and in a BBC article on 15 April 2018 stating that the Rohingya are being ‘repatriated’ to Myanmar, a country where they are not wanted. Most of the Rohingya are understandably reluctant and fearful of what lies across the border if they are forced to return.
Amnesty International stated in March 2018 that the military in Myanmar had conducted the campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine as part of a ‘land grab’ and a place to increase their military presence through the establishment of more bases. By bulldozing the area to create their own new infrastructure, the military has effectively removed any evidence of the villages that once stood there – villages that they burned out when the Rohingya were forced to flee for their lives.
As the rainy season approaches in Bangladesh and over 600,000 people still reside in a series of makeshift refugee camps at the border, it will require the ongoing relief efforts of agencies such as the UNHCR and Amnesty International to ensure that they are adequately cared for.