On World Refugee Day Ericsson, Refugees United and UNHCR
are launching a multi-country campaign with mobile operators to extend the use
of mobile services to facilitate global efforts to reconnect separated
With more than 42 million refugees in the world, many
affected by political conflict and natural disasters, the added desperation of
being separated from their family and friends without feasible means of tracing
them can only compound their suffering.
In response to a call from UNHCR to do 1 thing” to
support refugees, Ericsson is leading an industry initiative to use technology
as a force for good in support of the refugee cause.
This campaign includes the use of the latest Android app
technology to extend the reach of the Refugees United service – enabling
millions more refugees to use sms, mobile-enabled browsing (wireless
application protocol or WAP) and the Android market to find their loved ones.
The Refugees United platform enables refugees to use mobile phones to register and
search for loved ones via an anonymous database, and subsequently to connect
using SMS or the internet.
In our mission to help refugees searching for loved
ones, the mobile phone is the link to the people we’re working to help. Coupled
with the right information, a simple handheld device becomes a powerful
connector in even the remotest of places. This partnership will enable us to
reach, and reconnect, countless separated families across Africa,” said
Christopher Mikkelsen, managing director, Refugees United.
is pleased to join with Ericsson to broaden the availability of the Refugees
United application to a number of markets, in both the developed and
developing world. Helping refugees locate their loved ones using mobile
text messages and mobile internet is one of the many ways in which technology
is changing our world and helping people reconnect. Ensuring this is done
in a way that respects the privacy and security of individual refugees, UNHCR
is proud to participate in this pioneering and highly successful initiative,”
said AntÃ³nio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for
The recent pilot of the mobile services in Uganda,
involving Ericsson, pan-African operator Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN) and UNHCR has now
developed into a multi-country agreement to deploy the service across Africa.
Since the launch of the service in September 2010, 41,000 refugees have
registered. Among these are cousins Abdulahi Hussein Sheikh and Mohamed Ali
Salah who were separated in 1991 when fleeing the troubles in Somalia and have
since found each other through the service after 20 years without contact.
In addition, Ericsson is launching the service in Kenya
with Safaricom, and in Sweden and Denmark with the operator 3.
We are building on our commitment to register 120,000
refugees by the end of the year with the launch of the Android app. Adding more
countries through our operator partners and enabling access on multiple
platforms will help us to achieve this goal, and help break down the obstacles
to the reunification of refugees by using technology for good,” said Elaine
Weidman-Grunewald, vice president, Ericsson.
By Telecomlead.com Team