A Chatbot Helps Refugees Prepare For Their Asylum Interviews

A Chatbot Helps Refugees Prepare For Their Asylum Interviews
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MarHub is a new chatbot that will help connect refugees with up-to-date information and tips during the asylum-seeking process

Sara Roncero-Menendez
  • 30 august 2017

The refugee process can take over 18 months to complete, and that’s if everything goes smoothly. The importance of getting the right information, but connecting with the right people can be tricky. A new chatbot, MarHub, helps refugees prep for their interviews and to present their case.

Developed by by MBA students at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the chatbot is designed to help refugees with their application process, encouraging them to go through official channels rather than working with smugglers. While most refugees have access to smart phones, most aid for refugees are out of date or are too general to be of much use. The chatbot is available to give more specific information by first asking the user a series of questions about themselves and their situations.

Sarrah Nomanbhoy, one of the co-founders tells Fast Company that the biggest obstacle is the rapid spread of false information:

“Misinformation is kind of being fueled by these changes. 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.”

The chatbot also informs them of their rights, like how they can ask for a translator for their specific language or a transcript of their interview to ensure all the information is correct. It will also connect them to a legal volunteer at the end of the process. The chatbot will able available for Facebook and eventually as one for WhatsApp shortly after, and will be available in more languages besides English and Arabic in the near future. The system will not only serve refugees but also non-profits who can use the chatbot’s data to learn how to better serve the refugee population.

MarHub

The refugee process can take over 18 months to complete, and that’s if everything goes smoothly. The importance of getting the right information, but connecting with the right people can be tricky. A new chatbot, MarHub, helps refugees prep for their interviews and to present their case.

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