It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, while most people in Bangladesh were rushing to get vaccinated, not everyone was aware of how to protect themselves, get tested or even get the vaccine. For some members of the country’s nomadic ethnic group known as the Bede, the lack of access to information and health services was not the only obstacle they faced. As a marginalized minority that usually stays in temporary settlements, they don’t have permanent addresses, which makes it impossible for them to obtain official identification cards and other documents needed to access basic services.
For the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), helping marginalized groups has been essential in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and protecting the most vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly or those like the Bede with little access to health care.
Through the rotation of almost 4,000 volunteers, BDRCS was able to access areas where these small communities are temporarily settled across the Kishoreganj district to increase their awareness about the pandemic and distribute relief to the most vulnerable. The National Society was also able to arrange an agreement with the government to provide special permission for people in this area who don’t have official IDs to get tests or vaccines.