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For a refugee trapped in an overcrowded camp on an island in Greece, it often isn’t clear how to prepare for an asylum interview–a step in the process of getting official refugee status in the EU–and for those who have started to lose faith in the system, it’s also sometimes hard to believe that an interview can change their fate.
A new chatbot called MarHub (the name is a play on the Arabic greeting marhaba) is designed to help. After an asylum-seeker answers a few questions, the tool walks them through what to expect and how to present their case. Over time, the tool will expand to become a hub of information relevant to refugees, using the crowd to help vet the reliability of that information and flag details that seem outdated or inaccurate.
“Misinformation is kind of being fueled by these changes,” says Nomanbhoy. “Asylum seekers are so desperate to get an answer that these rumors spread, and people start to build on them, and that’s when there’s often violence in the camps and conflict. People are dealing with a lot of stress in those situations.”
While some organizations are unwilling to give refugees details about how long the process of applying for asylum can take–worrying that it might push people to take risks with smugglers–MarHub’s founders believe in full transparency so refugees can make the best-informed decisions.