Refugees United and Ericsson broaden reconnection services with Safaricom and Vodacom

Refugees United and Ericsson, along with Safaricom and Vodacom, are working toward reaching the goal of connecting one million refugees on the Refugees United platform by 2015.

Using a free dial code and toll-free lines from Safaricom, displaced people in Kenya will be able to access the family reconnection platform invented by Refugees United. Additionally, Vodacom is launching a similar service in DRC.

Refugees United is a free, mobile and online platform that allows people to search for missing family members, friends, and relatives on a safe and anonymous basis. Until now the platform was only accessible via a computer or internet-enabled mobile phone.

Thanks to the partnership the platform will now be available through a toll-free line and via a simple dial-code system, just like users know it from mobile banking, for example.

Safaricom will support a series of awareness activities, including SMS campaigns for the two largest refugee camps in Kenya, Dadaab and Kakuma.  Vodacom will launch a new hotline for service assistance in DRC.

Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of Refugees United, said, “Everyone has the right to know where their family is. Thanks to Ericsson and operator partners like Safaricom and Vodacom DRC, we can empower refugees to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands.”

Through this platform, families can simply call their toll free line or dial a simple short code from their mobile phone to start the search for long lost family members or relatives.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said, “Millions of families have been separated as they flee violence and war in their home countries. Refugees United empowers separated family members to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands.”

“This initiative has the power to transform the nature of family reconnection for generations to come. It is an example of how mobile technology is truly changing the lives of people on the African continent for good. We are looking for innovative ways to get this to scale, and partnerships are key to success,” says Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, vice president, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson.

Ericsson and Refugees United have set a goal to reach one million users on the platform by the end of 2015.

Leveraging the ubiquitous nature of simple mobile phones across Kenya and DRC, the new, simple ways of accessing the Refugees United family reconnection platform will serve many more thousands of families in the search for their missing loved ones.

In the run-up to World Refugee Day, Ericsson and Refugees United hosted a Global Hack for Good” in Cairo, Nairobi and Silicon Valley, where developers were tasked with a challenge of coding applications to ensure that the platform is accessible to families living in refugee camps and remote areas.

[email protected]