Digital ID for Stateless Refugees

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Digital ID for Stateless Refugees

Tuesday 5I

Convener: Jeff Aresty, Larry Bridgesmith, Jonathan Holt, Kristin Yasuda

Notes-taker(s): Kristin Yasuda

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

#identification #legal identity #global south 

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Part I: Refugee Music Video Screening & introduction of PeaceTones/IBO

  • IBO screened a music video “Is the Lady listening?” that PeaceTones project recorded in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh with Rohingya refugees. (
  • By providing identification to the musicians, the aim is to create jobs and foster economic inclusion (The Invisibles)

Part II: DEMO of IPID (Interplanetary identifiers)

  • Implementation of DID method on top of IPFS (interplanetary File System)
    • Suitable for the usage in refugee camps, because the method works offline
      • Tied to the hardware and assumes the possession of a phone
    • P2P method and does not require server nor stewards
    • Issue that needs to be solved is key recovery
      • Usage of biometrics (vain + DNA) is one possibility
  • Another DEMO of DID method from Pelle (uPort)
    • QR Code(key) generation that can be scanned using a mobile app
  • Question: what is the business case you are trying to solve?
    • Portable identification for the people who are not connected to the Web and move constantly

Open question to the participants: “What possible obstacles remain?”

  • Refugees lack formal credentials that can be put into the wallet that has just been demonstrated
    • Last thing refugees want to do is to give out their real name
    • SSI does not necessarily solve refugee’s problems
  • Need to make clear refugees at which point of the journey are we addressing: those who just crossed the border, or those already in the camp?
    • Identification and a method to match supply and demand in the camps are different things. People are not looking at the UN IDs not as identities, but as means to get food
  • Do these solutions require State actors/top-down approach?
    • Low trust towards State institutions in parts of the developing world

Feedback from the participants:

  1. Solutions need to be context specific
  • We should also consider providing identification for marginalized populations in the developed world such as homeless people, in addition to refugees and global south communities
2. Political questions remain but we can and have to start acting