IBM Canada has teamed up with NGO Aman Lara to build a technology platform that helps NGOs in their evacuation efforts to bring up to 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada, as part of Canada’s expanded Afghan resettlement program. The new platform is available in English, Pashto and Dari to help Afghans who are at a high risk of being targeted by the Taliban to seek assistance out of the country.
Developed by IBM with input from Aman Lara and partner NGOs Afghan Canadian Interpreters and Building Markets, the new platform is unique to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. The solution provides a resourceful way for applicants to submit their information, which is stored in a secure environment on IBM Cloud and only accessible to applicants, their advocates, and relevant agencies that need to process the applications.
As of mid-October, nearly 12,000 individuals have been entered into the platform, with Aman Lara notably working with Afghans who assisted Canadian Forces, families of Afghan-Canadian interpreters, and other vulnerable populations facing persecution under Taliban rule.
“The platform that IBM has developed for Aman Lara is a game changer in our efforts to assist those vulnerable Afghans who are in desperate need of our help,” said Amanda Moddejonge, Aman Lara’s lead data analyst. “The platform ensures that the information we are collecting is accurate and those in need can safely upload all their information in a secure manner.”
Dave McCann, Managing Partner, IBM Consulting Canada, provided me an overview of how the platform works.
“The Afghan Refugee Processing Tool is a safe and secure web portal where Afghans can submit their information that can be reviewed by NGOs before being submitted to the Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC),” began McCann. “The platform is a web-app optimized for a mobile and web experience.”
“The platform has secure login credentials, and an administrative user interface to enable the NGOs to access, review the applications, and then submit them to IRCC for processing. It has been tested by IBM and third-party security teams to ensure there are no vulnerabilities.”
“Text and visual personal information can be uploaded as photos, documents, [and] videos as the platform supports jpeg, doc, mov, pdf and more.”
How is content validated?
McCann replied, “NGOs on the ground in Afghanistan have access to submitted applications to validate the content and confirm the information is ready to be submitted to the IRCC. The next release of the platform will include an Admin interface for NGOs to accelerate the validation of information submitted by applicants.”
“This platform is a first of its kind,” explained Moddejonge. “It is only being used by Aman Lara, although we are providing the details we collect to the Canadian government,” and further noted that, “the government of Canada is not using the platform.”
As Aman Lara can track applicants and their travel documents in real time the impact has been great.
Said Moddejonge, “Aman Lara is able to use this to troubleshoot when necessary and either assist in expediting the immigration process or evacuating them.”
Moddeionge added, “It is a safe and secure way to provide their personal information without fear of Taliban finding out who they are and how they contributed to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. It also allows Aman Lara to track their progress as they wait for documentation from Canada and evacuation from Afghanistan.”
“We’re proud to support this effort led by Aman Lara,” stated McCann. “The project started with a group of committed IBMers seeing a need and realizing that IBM consulting and technology could make a huge difference to the lives of Afghans. The team knew the urgency and in two weeks had the first phase of the platform ready to go – truly an example of how technology can impact lives for the better.”
Aman Lara is a Canadian not-for-profit organization, dedicated to the safe evacuation of vulnerable Afghans fleeing Taliban persecution in their own country. The organization was established in August of 2021 for this specific purpose and provides safety in Afghanistan, the facilitation of travel documentation and transport out of the country. Aman Lara was founded by a group of Canadian Veterans with close ties to Afghanistan.