The Rohingya ethnic group is one of the most persecuted minorities. They are in an unusual position as the country they originate from, Myanmar, denies them citizenship, making them stateless. Nearby countries that they flee to have also not been willing to grant them citizenship. Even though previous studies have used Participatory Design methodologies to investigate refugee communities, we believe, Rohingya people and their specific circumstances pose unique and interesting challenges. The digital revolution is transforming the world and is leaving refugees behind (UNHCR). In this research we carried out a series of Participatory Design workshops to explore how Rohingya refugees could be assisted by technology; both early on and long after they arrived in a new country. Our findings, which were confirmed and endorsed by the Rohingya community, suggest that new technology concepts aiming to assist them should primarily focus on: safety, social capital, upskilling, and language translation.
A mobile phone app was then developed by Mr Sean Paterson as part of his honours year project. This app was evaluated in a workshop with Rohingya refugees in Penang, Malaysia.
This work is supported by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Aspire Penang, a local non-government organisation acting in Penang providing aid to Rohingya refugees.