Many of the 770,000 refugees who have migrated to Europe since January are from middle-class backgrounds, and are therefore educated and tech-savvy. As a result, most use smartphones for GPS navigation and communicate with family through Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, and Line apps.
With the understanding that smartphones are invaluable tools to refugees, tech companies and aid groups have directed their efforts to creating tech-focused ways to help refugees communicate and travel safely. For example, Google, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Mercy Corps collectively launched refugeeinfo.eu last month. The website explains the registration process, locations to eat and sleep, medical help, and traveling to Athens for those who land on the beaches of Greece.
Rey Rodrigues, IRC’s technology coordinator, describes the intentions of refugeeinfo.eu: “We wanted to create a roadmap. You see a lot of refugees walking with their smartphones and power cords and extra batteries. This lets them be self-sufficient.”
It is not uncommon for a refugee to walk up to 10 hours to register with Greek authorities at the southern part of the island, when buses are available for free. The roadmap’s goal is to provide valuable information like this to refugees, especially when translators are not available to convey the information.
Refugeeinfo.eu is one of many tech resources available to refugees. Disaster Tech Lab recently supplied Wi-Fi access to two refugee camps in Lesbos. InfoAid, an android app built by a Hungarian couple, helps refugees access train tickets, medical care and water. First-contact.org provides contact to local NGOs and offers specific information on how to survive on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos.
Article via Mashable, November 8, 2015
Photo: Liqaa with her daughter Limar born on August 3, 2013 via Oxfam International [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]