Bureaucrazy: Syrian refugees build app to navigate German red tape

Signal of change / Bureaucrazy: Syrian refugees build app to navigate German red tape

By Madhumitha Ardhanari / 28 Sep 2016

A group of six Syrian refugees in Berlin has built a mobile and web application called Bureaucrazy to help refugees get over the significant hurdle of paperwork. They realised that many refugees had problems accessing and filling out forms, since only a few were in Arabic or English.

Through translating, simplifying and mapping various bureaucratic procedures, the app aims to reduce waiting time by informing refugees what paperwork they need, where to get the correct forms, what documentation they need to bring, and how long it might take to be processed. The app is proving to be valuable not just to refugees but to other newcomers and natives alike, due to the complexity of the German bureaucratic system.  

The app’s developers were mentored at the non-profit ReDi School For Digital Integration in Germany and the app’s prototype was a winner at a hackathon co-organised by the school, Startup Summit Europe and Facebook. Currently, they are crowdfunding the app’s development, aiming to launch it in early January, 2017.

So what?

There are now more people involuntarily displaced from their homes than ever before in human history. In 2015, 1 in 113 people in the world was a refugee. With rising sea levels and environmental degradation, that number is likely to rise with more climate refugees.

Even though many people are self-elected ‘citizens of everywhere’, security concerns and prevalent anti-immigrant sentiment in the West have resulted in extensive background checks for refugees.

As refugee camps become the ‘cities of our future’, there is a strong need to be able to harness the talent and knowledge of refugees to benefit their adopted cities and towns while fostering a sense of belonging. Like in all populations, refugees who are systematically disenfranchised and socially excluded in their adopted cities tend to turn to illegal activities such as drugs and human trafficking without the right safety nets. Initiatives such as Bureaucrazy need to be scaled up effectively for us to fully harness our potential in tackling climate change and resource scarcity.

Sources

The Guardian (August 5, 2016) Syrian refugees design app for navigating German bureaucracy

Radiospaetkauf (August 2, 2016) Refugees build Bureaucrazy app to solve German paperwork problems

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