Empowering the Stateless: Malaysian group use blockchain to give Rohingya digital identity

November 8, 2018

Transcript: Tens of thousands of Rohingya who have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar are taking refuge in Malaysia. However, they're in a state of limbo – unable to work legally or send their kids to school. But one project aims to change that. It's using blockchain -- a secure database technology -- to create digital identities for these stateless refugees giving them access to services such as financing. Rian Maelzer met with the co-founder of the Rohingya Project in Kuala Lumpur.

MUHAMMAD NOOR MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE ROHINGYA PROJECT "The Rohingya Project is actually laying down a foundation to an antidote of the statelessness issues. They need education, they need health care, they need all other facilities or services that any normal citizens do. But being stateless you do not get access to all these services. Simply, one of the major reasons is because you don't have an identity, so what Rohingya Project is targeting is that to come up with a self-solvent digital identity using the cutting-edge technology which is the blockchain technology, and using this identity as an access key to the financial platform where people can do some sort of trading, some sort of transactions, rather now living in a dark economy coming into the mainstream economy where they will have a credit history and their can be some access to P2P kind of loans and access to micro-finance and so on."

ARIFA SULTANA ROHINGYA REFUGEE "I'm working on a project called the Rohingya Bazaar which I want to do for the Rohingya females because they are always at home so I want to create something like Lazada where the women can sell their own projects, where we create a virtual marketplace. And that requires a lot of funding and a lot of logistical support."

RIAN MAELZER KUALA LUMPUR "The Rohingya Project has engaged multiple institutions, universities and researchers to examine and fine tune this blockchain initiative. They also have Swiss partners creating a platform for the digital identity and a Malaysian partner working on the financial architecture."

MUHAMMAD NOOR MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE ROHINGYA PROJECT "These partners not only bring credibility and legitimacy but also look into some serious things as to how it is going to benefit the end user. My dream and my vision is that if this thing is successful implementing with the Rohingya community I want to make this open source to the other marginalized community like us. we cannot wait anymore and most importantly this Rohingya cannot die without hope we have to come up with hope. So this is a ray of hope."

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