Refugees United

Tech Migration: How Refugees Use Mobiles Phones to Locate and Communicate With Family

Posted by EKStallings on Dec 13, 2011

Refugees often experience a compound trauma: The situation that caused them to flee in the first place, as well as the fact that many families become separated during migration. For refugee's health and well-being and ability to resettle, it is vital to know the whereabouts of relatives, their safety, and their ability to remain in contact. Today, mobile phones are the most important technology for refugees to find relatives and remain in contact. 

The Forced Migration Review Issue 38The Technology Issue covers technologies for refugees in particular. Two chapters shine a light on the use of mobile phones among refugees, as well as  some of the problems with this tech to find and contact family member such as issues of security, and accessibility.

Phoning Home

Drawing from a workshop with refugees, their advocates, NGO staff, and researchers, "Phoning Home," by Linda Leung examines refugees' ways of remaining in contact with family elsewhere. As a companion piece to the University of Technology Sydney research paper,Technology's Refuge that analyzes ways in which refugees use communication technologies, Leung describes the barriers to refugee usage of mobile phones.

Photo by IICD,

Can you find me now? Refugees United Goes Mobile to Help Reunite Refugees

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Oct 28, 2010
Can you find me now? Refugees United Goes Mobile to Help Reunite Refugees data sheet 4060 Views

As part of a pilot project in Uganda, Refugees United is using mobile tools to help connect refugees who have been displaced by war, persecution, and natural disasters. Refugees United is a Danish NGO that designed and runs a web-based program to help people directly reconnect with missing loved ones. For the mobile pilot, it is working in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mobile phone maker Ericsson, MTN, a mobile telecommunications company in Africa and specifically MTN Uganda, as well as other partner organizations on the ground.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal of the mobile pilot is to perform outreach, training, and registration at refugee camps in Uganda and analyze results.

Brief description of the project: 

Refugees United is doing a six-month mobile pilot program in Uganda that allows refugees to register via mobile phone for a service that helps them connect with missing family members.

Target audience: 

The target audience for the mobile pilot is refugees in Uganda who are looking for missing family members.

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The Refugees United pilot leveraged a technology -- the basic mobile phone -- that users are familiar with. Another success is the strength of the partnerships involved with the program. Refugees United drew from the existing local knowledge of organizations on the ground.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Safety and trust within the system are ongoing concerns.

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Web in the Aussie Elections, the Kenyan Mobile Price War, and Refugees Turn to Mobiles

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 14, 2010


Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on Australia's record mobile web usage during the recent elections there, how telecom's price wars in Kenya have pushed down prices, why carriers may have raised the price of Google's Nexus One, a project Ugandan refugees using mobiles to find missing family, and competition for data-enabled handsets in Africa.