How Google Forms, WhatsApp are helping Afghans to cross borders with resettlement programs

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How Google Forms, WhatsApp are helping Afghans to cross borders with resettlement programs
WhatsApp, Google Forms and other social networks are being used to help eligible Afghans resettle in other countries.Unsplash
  • Afghans and relief organisations have turned to online resources to help with evacuation and resettlement.
  • Information of eligible Afghans are being sent via WhatsApp, Google Forms and private social networks to relief organisations.
  • These online resources are helping with quick communication but may also pose a risk if used for other purposes.
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Relief organisations have been trying to get in touch with Afghans to help them get out of the country through online resources such as WhatsApp, Google Forms and other private social groups, according to a report by MIT Technology Review. These online resources are helping in speedy communication but also pose a great risk for vulnerable Afghan citizens.

The relief organisations are informal networks of people composed of journalists, non-profit organisations, universities, and government officials as well, who are working online making lists of Afghan citizens eligible for resettlement. These arrangements were actually in motion for weeks but the efforts were doubled due to the urgency of Afghans trying to flee the country, the report added.

Google Forms are one popular online resource being used to help evacuate eligible Afghans for resettlement. Google Forms are easy to share online and contain a set of questions that people need to answer. The details required for Afghans include contact information, resettlement details, personal identification numbers, document scans, national ID cards and passport numbers as well.

These details are also being sent via WhatsApp for a relief effort that reportedly came from the US Department of State. This relief effort is for a new resettlement program and those who could be eligible are asked to send documents and personal information to organisers via WhatsApp.

While Google Forms and WhatsApp are helping organisations in resettlement efforts, these online resources also pose a grave risk to Afghans. There’s a new list being created every day by a different organisation, and these lists are being spread across different social networks. This quick dissemination of information can lead to bad actors using the online resources to pose as relief organisations. But the Afghans are also becoming aware of these threats, and new requests are being verified, the report added. There are also Facebook posts urging Afghans to restrict their friend list settings and also delete their social media histories.

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