Blockchain Solution Brings Rohingya People New Hope

Blockchain, Education, FinTech, Innovation | July 24, 2018 By:

The Rohingya are a stateless people who resided in Myanmar until ethnic persecution drove them into Bangladesh. The conditions they faced in what they claim to be their native country has been compared to apartheid, as Human RIght Watch notes they are barred from freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs. But in some cases, the persecution is far worse, as military crackdowns have been called ethnic cleansing.

The Internet bar organization and tech company has been tasked with establishing, verifying and securely storing the identities of displaced Rohingya refugees utilizing distributed ledger technology, ID management, and digital wallet creation.

As refugees fled to Bangladesh with limited possessions, many left/lost formats/assets for professional/personal identity and their credentials due to them being lost, confiscated, or left behind.

Alexa Narma, senior director of product and marketing at Odem, answered some Block Tribune questions about the daunting obstacles facing the Rohingya.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Do the Rohingya present any unique challenges from other refugees?

ALEXA NARMA:  The ODEM Education Through Identity or ITE for short is applicable as a solution for all displaced peoples. We had chosen to work with the Rohingya, as they face the unique challenge of being a targeted ethnic group. Rohingya belong to a muslim minority in their home state and have been subverted for decades. Rohingyas have been facing genocide for many years and the educated are often the first targeted. Our hope is to work alongside the government and NGO’s to provide an opportunity for the Rohingya to rebuild.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Walk me through the process. You’re attempting to establish an ID for an individual. What are the steps? 

ALEXA NARMA: Essentially what takes place is that ODEM works with volunteers on the ground, as well as credible law professionals (primarily stateside). Using the consensus model, a refugee is able to assert their education background and provide any documentations they may have. Legal professionals are then able to ascertain their claim and have those credentials reapplied within the blockchain. This provides a secure way for the identity of individuals to be protected, while also creating a digital ID to empower Rohingan refugees to find work.

BLOCK TRIBUNE:  Once an ID is established, is there any support for them in navigating this financial path?

ALEXA NARMA: A major aspect of ODEM and our mission is the founding of the ODEM
Foundation. We are passionate about using education of a means of providing lives on an international scale. Through this system, Rohingyan refugees are granted a currency agnostic wallet, which provides a means of not only receiving donations, but also tracking their use, as well. ODEM is teaming up with considerable resources on the ground and plan to provide ongoing support post-ID creation.

BLOCK TRIBUNE:  What do you anticipate the effect will be on the Rohingya community by having this leg up? 

ALEXA NARMA: At its center, our goal with this initiative is to help Rohingan refugees re-enter the workforce and provide for their own families to help bolster a stronger future for the community. This initiative provides a means for the Rohingyan participants to receive a digital ID, confirmation of educational background and cryptocurrency agnostic wallet. These individuals now have a means of receiving donations and reestablishing their identity to build infrastructure and introduce paying jobs to the population. We hope this will provide greater independence for these people.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What is the biggest obstacle in doing this?

ALEXA NARMA:  It should be mentioned that working with volunteers on the ground and abiding by the laws of the regions are necessary complications to supply refugees with identity. We are in the process of partnering with these bodies to ensure ODEM is able to access and assist these people in the most successful way possible.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Will you be doing this for children as well as adults?

ALEXA NARMA: The initial launch will primarily focus on restoring the identity of educated adults in the Rohingya camps, as they provide the most straightforward way to enable financial independence for these people. This said, biometrics, such as fingerprint scans are also supported as part of the identity creating infrastructure and absolutely can be expanded to include children at a later date, as well.