World Health Organisation #MigrantsDay 2019: Refugees’ Health; The Agenda

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Plight of refugees
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Life in a refugee camp on the Syria-Lebanon border

Most migrants suffer from inadequate information and resources; often lack access to health services and financial protection for health from the host country. The right to health applies to everyone – irrespective of nationality, race, colour, sex or other status///CRIMSON TAZVINZWA////

It is impossible to talk about health issues in the past year in Europe without reflecting on the refugee crisis, and the challenges and opportunities that it has presented for Europe. Over one million children, women and men arrived at our shores and borders last year.

It is impossible to talk about health issues in the past year in Europe without reflecting on the refugee crisis, and the challenges and opportunities that it has presented for Europe. Over one million children, women and men arrived at our shores and borders last year.
The European Union had a common responsibility to ensure that these persons, many of them physically and mentally exhausted, were offered care and support, including through the provision of healthcare when required.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

The challenge of migrants and refugees cannot be viewed as a short-term one that can be resolved exclusively by means of ‘exceptional’ or ‘emergency’ responses.

The drivers that result in large-scale movements of people within and between countries are diverse, complex and interactive. Many of them are more likely to increase rather than decrease in the coming decades, including extreme weather events and slower shifts in weather patterns resulting from global warming that can lead to food and water shortages and losses of livelihoods and impacts of population increases, urbanisation, land degradation, deforestation and sea level rise.

In addition, it can be expected that violence, political oppression and human rights abuses, as well as desires by people for a better life and greater economic opportunity, will continue to act as sources of involuntary or voluntary migration. It is therefore important to search for solutions that recognise migrants, refugees and asylum seekers as ‘part of society’ and that make them ‘structural’ rather than ‘external’ in health systems as well as other areas.

 

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World Food Programme (WFP) Taps Into Blockchain Technology, Helps Syrian Refugees in Jordan With Identity, Relief Aide And Employment

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By Crimson Tazvinzwa

The World Food Programme  rolls out blockchain technology —a type of distributed ledger technolog as part of its “Building Blocks” pilot, to expand refugees’ choices in how they access and spend their money.

Migrants try to stay afloat after falling off their rubber dinghy during a rescue operation by Moas off the coast of Zawiya in Libya ( Reuters )

The humanitarian aide agency also explores the feasibility and effectiveness of Building Blocks cash transfers, their security and transparency. Most notably, the World Food Programme  has used blockchain to deliver food aide more efficiently to 106,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. Building Blocks facilitates cash transfers while protecting beneficiary data, controlling financial risks, and allowing for greater collaboration.

Blockchain; Weapon against hunger?

At the heart of Building Blocks is research showing that direct cash transfers to those in need can be the most effective and efficient way to distribute humanitarian assistance while also improving domestic economies. In 2018 for instance WFP distributed record cash transfers of $1.76 billion with bare minimum risks.

Blockchain is an irreversible ledger which records the transfer of data.

But distributing cash depends on local financial ecosystems and, where possible, WFP prioritizes working through and strengthening the local financial environment. However, in some contexts, financial service providers are either insufficient or unreliable. In others, refugees face restrictions in opening bank accounts. That’s why in January 2017, WFP initiated a proof-of-concept project in Sindh province, Pakistan, to test the capabilities of using blockchain for authenticating and registering beneficiary transactions. The blockchain technology behind the project allowed direct, secure, and fast transactions between participants and WFP—without requiring a financial intermediary like a bank to connect the two parties.

Biometric recognition (also known as biometrics) refers to the automated recognition of individuals based on their biological and behavioral traits (ISO/IEC JTC1 SC37). Examples of biometric traits include fingerprint, face, iris, palmprint, retina, hand geometry, voice, signature and gait

After refining the project’s approach, the next phase of Building Blocks was implemented in two refugee camps in Jordan. Now, over 100,000 people living in the camps can purchase groceries by scanning an iris at checkout. Cash value from WFP or other partners is stored in a beneficiary ‘account’ maintained on the blockchain, but the cash that beneficiaries receive or spend on goods and services is paid to the beneficiaries or to the retailers through a commercial financial service provider. Built on a private, permissioned blockchain, and integrated with UNHCR’s existing biometric authentication technologyWFP has a record of every transaction. This not only saves on financial transaction fees in the camp setting but ensures greater security and privacy for Syrian refugees.

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