Delta Partners and Ericsson support mobile application that reconnects refugees with loved ones
In support of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled from conflict and disaster areas, Refugees United with Ericsson and Refugees United, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and mobile operator MTN in Uganda, have launched the first project to locate and reconnect refugee and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) families through the innovative use of mobile phones and internet.
The program enables refugees to use mobile phones to register and search for loved ones via an anonymous database, and subsequently reconnect using mobile text messaging (SMS) or the Internet. The information registered may be accessed by refugees and NGOs caring for displaced people, and used to quickly put them in touch with their families.
According to David and Christopher Mikkelsen, Directors of Refugees United, on a recent implementation visit with UNHCR to Uganda they witnessed long lines of refugees waiting to sign up to the service to find missing family members. Most refugees have used a mobile phone so they feel secure, they know how it will work, and they give only information they are comfortable sharing, to reconnect.
In offering the service, Refugees United will create, maintain and update the database while Ericsson will provide the mobile application, technology and systems integration to enable the application in mobile networks. MTN will host and offer the service on their networks, and UNHCR will help to implement the project in the different refugee settlements. Refugees United is actively supported by Delta Partners, who are providing strategic guidance to the initiative.