Improving Access to Mobile Phones for Syrian Refugees
Published on: 24th Feb 2014
Note -- this news article is more than a year old.
The United Nations estimates that due to the crisis in Syria, people are being displaced at the rate of one every 15 seconds. In response to this, Ericsson, Refugees United, and mobile operators across the Middle East are uniting in order to use mobile communications as a means of expanding the family reconnection service.
This action aims to reach the nearly 800,000 displaced Syrians residing in Jordan and Iraq and help those separated to locate each other via a mobile search tool.
This is replicating the successful deployment of the Refugees United service in East Africa where the service is already live through mobile operators in Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somaliland.
The coalition of mobile operators will launch several new initiatives to accelerate registrations of Syrians in these countries, including a free mobile application, a toll-free line, and a free SMS notification service. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are 4.25 million Syrians displaced internally and 2.4 million displaced in neighboring countries.
Ericsson is the technology partner to the initiative, helping to develop and maintain the overall mobile platform and will provide technical support and integration of the tool into mobile networks in Jordan and Iraq.
Mobile operators will send text messages to people living in refugee camps and refugee prone areas, offering an opportunity to register for the service with toll-free lines and SMS. The hotline will be manned out of a Refugees United office, where people can get help with registrations and other questions.
Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson, said: "The crisis in Syria is a tragic example of how thousands of people are being displaced every single day, putting immense tolls on individual families that are being uprooted and torn apart. The service has proven successful in Africa, and now we want to bring this to the Middle East to address the Syrian crisis. We hope more operators will join us in deploying the service, and we are grateful to Zain and Asiacell for their leadership."