December 22, 2023

UNHCR Official Stresses Importance of Decentralized ID for Refugees

Decentralised Identity

Decentralised Identity

A UNHCR official asserted the importance of decentralized identity, enabled through zero-knowledge proofs (ZK-proofs), in ensuring the safety of refugees when crossing borders.

Carmen Hett, treasurer of the Division of Financial and Administrative Management for UNHCR, said that it’s currently the mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to establish an identity infrastructure that allows refugees to migrate quickly with their verified identity intact.

Refugees face a significant challenge in proving their identity, as their government usually holds the key to verifying their identity.

“Imagine yourself as a refugee going across borders; not all the laws in every country are the same, so the key is [to have] a system that can ensure the trust that we can guarantee as UNHCR to make sure identity is actually secure and safe for the people at risk,” clarified Hett in a panel discussion moderated by Cointelegraph’s Kristina Cornèr in Geneva.

Hett suggested that implementing ZK-proofs can help secure the safety of refugees when they cross borders. In the context of refugees, identity verification and data protection are essential to ensure that the process is borderless, build trust, and deploy zero-knowledge proofs. Several techniques can be used to make this process even more secure.

According to Concordium, a refugee who cannot prove their identity may face restrictions in accessing bank accounts, employment opportunities, and other benefits and services in the country they migrated to. ZK-proofs can potentially serve as a solution to this problem.

A cryptographic protocol, ZK-proofs allow one party to prove the truth of a statement to another party without sharing any of the statement’s contents. This protocol is commonly integrated into digital identity solutions to ensure that one’s identity can be proven without the verifier or anyone else needing to see original documentation.

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