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Promoting and regulating the use of blockchain technology by and for refugees

Motion for a resolution | Doc. 14881 | 12 April 2019

Ms Doris FIALA, Switzerland, ALDE ; Mr Volodymyr ARIEV, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Ms Sabrina DE CARLO, Italy, NR ; Ms Latifa EL HAMMOUD, Morocco ; Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, Switzerland, SOC ; Ms Sahiba GAFAROVA, Azerbaijan, EC ; Mr Carlos Alberto GONÇALVES, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ, Croatia, SOC ; Ms Tatevik HAYRAPETYAN, Armenia, NR ; Mr Serhii KIRAL, Ukraine, EC ; Mr Jiři KOBZA, Czech Republic, NR ; Mr Jacques LE NAY, France, ALDE ; Mr Killion MUNYAMA, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr Paulo PISCO, Portugal, SOC ; Mr Gheorghe-Dinu SOCOTAR, Romania, SOC ; Ms Olena SOTNYK, Ukraine, ALDE ; Mr Egidijus VAREIKIS, Lithuania, EPP/CD ; Mr Miltiadis VARVITSIOTIS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Mr Volkmar VOGEL, Germany, EPP/CD ; Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, Lithuania, EPP/CD ; Ms Naira ZOHRABYAN, Armenia, EC

New technologies such as blockchain are revolutionising everyday life globally. Applied to refugees and migratory processes, their proper use could help solve many problems, from identification to aid distribution and economic and social integration.

Many refugees leave behind or lose identification and administrative documents, which are almost always impossible to retrieve. Blockchain technology can host unlimited amounts of data which cannot be forged: once verified on the blockchain, identities cannot be faked and are time-stamped and public.

According to the UNHCR, nearly 22.5 million refugees need support, posing challenges of distribution, proper use of funds and avoiding mismanagement. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is currently implementing a large-scale programme in Jordan using blockchain to respond to these challenges. The Za’Atari refugee camp, home to 80 000 Syrian refugees, uses blockchain technology to distribute aid: in the camp’s supermarkets, eye scans confirm identities on a United Nations database, link up to family cash-for-food accounts on a WFP blockchain, and take payment from the account, ensuring swift, accountable and transparent use of funds.

In the context of integration, blockchain technology also offers enhanced co-operation between governments, businesses and individuals, as it can be used to ensure transparency and allow transactions to be verified in real time. Governments could create "blockchain work permits” for refugees, connecting them with employers directly. Money transfers to and from countries of origin can also be made easier and cheaper.

The advantages of blockchain technology for assisting migrants and refugees and for their improved access to social and economic rights appear obvious. However, while promoting new technologies to facilitate reception, asylum processing and efficient integration of refugees and migrants, the Parliamentary Assembly should examine their implications with respect to use of personal data, privacy and equal access to assistance.