The Indo-Aryan-speaking Rohingya people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are encountering the dire issue of persecution and ethnic cleansing. Fortunately, many individuals and groups are using blockchain technology to help refugees in innovative ways beyond just remittances.
Who are the Rohingya People?
The 3.5 million Rohingya people are a stateless, predominantly Muslim ethnic minority who’ve historically faced persecution and are without citizenship or equal civil rights. In 2016 and 2017, the Myanmar government ordered its military to commence mass executions of Rohingyas, resulting in large-scale human rights violations and deaths.
The ethnic cleansing has led to a refugee crisis, with over 600,000 refugees migrating to Bangladesh and India for sanctuary.
The United Nations (UN) has received criticism for its response to the Rohingya crisis. Although the UN criticized Myanmar’s military actions and characterized them as ethnic cleansing and genocide, it hasn’t called for member nations to help settle and protect Rohingya refugees.
Instead, the majority of aid is from private nonprofits like Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.
A recently signed repatriation deal between the UN and Myanmar doesn’t address the issue of Rohingya citizenship and ignores pleas to establish a refugee representative. The crisis is also relatively less visible in Western media compared to other humanitarian crises like the Syrian civil war or Yemeni crisis.
How Blockchain Is Helping
Fortunately, blockchain technology is already helping Rohingya refugees improve their lives. The Rohingya Project is a philanthropic initiative to give refugees digital identification and other social services. The project aims to address the challenges of being stateless, including a lack of national identification, no access to capital, credit, and other financial services.
The project will use blockchain tech to issue digital identification to refugees who can verify their status by taking a test. The project, currently experimenting with a pilot program, hopes that successful identification will be a first step toward restoring the human rights and dignity of the Rohingya people.
Educating Refugees Using Blockchain
A new blockchain project that aims to help refugees worldwide is ExsulCoin. ExsulCoin is working on providing educational opportunities to refugees through an immutable record of educational achievements.
The ExsulCoin blockchain will help refugees learn, refine skills, find employment, and share their work records with other people. The founders of ExsulCoin, James Song and Cat Song, are deeply passionate about aiding refugees.
The UN and world governments should intervene and provide humanitarian relief. In their absence, these two blockchain technology initiatives will help refugees transcend their struggles and successfully pursue a better life.
The author does not hold any positions in any of the assets above.
Cover Photo by Matt Garies on Unsplash