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Use technology and innovation to better support displaced persons




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According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a record 80 million people (equivalent to 1 in 97) worldwide are currently refugees or due to conflict, persecution, or public turmoil. I’m being driven home.

Not only is the number of people in this position increasing year by year, but the time it takes them to return home is also increasing. In the 1990s, an average of 1.5 million people were able to do this each year, but over the last decade this number has dropped to 385,000. This often means that movement is no longer a temporary phenomenon.

Unfortunately, the situation can get worse. In fact, it is estimated that the expansion of the climate crisis could evacuate as many as 1.2 billion people by 2050. The Institute for Economics and Peace is a think tank that produces indicators of global terrorism and peace each year.

However, organizations such as Techfugees will participate here. It was founded in 2015 following the shocking death of Arankurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian refugee who drowned on the Turkish coast trying to reach Kos, Greece. Raj Burman, CEO, who joined social enterprise last November, said it was “to harness the power of technology and innovation” to help refugees more effectively.

The organization, which consists of a core team of 12 people based in the United Kingdom and France, has 40 branches and 54,000 volunteers worldwide. These branches work with local organizations ranging from humanitarian and non-governmental organizations to technology companies and academic institutions with the aim of focusing on five key areas: access to information, health, education, work and inclusion. We are affiliated.

To illustrate this point, Berman describes an initiative in a refugee camp in Kenya involving the Red Cross, Google, Oracle, and the local innovation center iHub.

In Kenya, the focus was on improving the health of Kakuma refugee camps, so we worked with partners to consider and develop solutions for internally displaced persons. We plan to build a minimally viable product, test it in the field, and launch it this year. We will also work with data hubs to see if further development may be needed to support their adoption in other markets.

This data hub was created last year from aggregated open source and grassroots data to graphically show how pandemics are affecting displaced persons and where Covid-19 hotspots are located. The purpose is to make information available to research institutes and policy makers to make more informed choices about such groups.

The third plan for the activity is the Techfugees 4 Women Fellowship program. Founded by an organization’s charity in France, the six-month sponsored initiative is free for all participants and enables professional female refugees to network online and improve their digital skills. The purpose is to support. Offline training and mentoring.

In the first round of the program, which ended last year, 80% of 42 women were involved in employment. As a result, there are plans to roll out this plan in Italy and Greece again this year.

DoctorX-Multilingual Medical Passport

Meanwhile, Techfugee’s other success story is the Doctor X app, inspired by electrician Ahmad Bassam. An Android-based app, which he describes as a “multilingual medical passport,” stores and provides access to medical records to healthcare professionals to improve the quality of support provided to Jordanian displaced persons. Digital means.

With a total population of 10.2 million, the country officially qualifies 3 million refugees as exile, but Bassam has a total of 550 displaced persons in 56 countries following the wave of immigrants since the 1990s. We are increasing to 10,000 people.

After seeing how vulnerable such displaced persons were and talking to a doctor who reported problems with access to their medical history, he continued his daily work while Dr. X in mid-2017. I started working on. User testing began in early 2018 and the app was released last year with the help of thousands of volunteers around the world.

For how it works, users can download it for free from the Google Play store, sign up for an account, choose Arabic, English, or French, enter the details, and write a note to the doctor who is seeing you. Just get it. About it following the consultation. The encrypted data is stored on the Google Cloud Platform backend, but it can also be accessed offline.

However, one of the most parts of the initiative was simply to raise awareness of services among displaced persons and have them sign up. For example, many people don’t trust social media, but advertising in healthcare apps violates Jordanian law anyway. As a result, Bassam and various volunteers had to visit directly and rely on word-of-mouth to encourage acceptance into refugee camps and hospitals that proved impossible in a pandemic.

After receiving an application from a contact to attend the organization’s Global Summit about where Techfugees will appear, Bassam realized that the networking opportunities offered through the event were invaluable. For example, the organization’s partner, Google, offered free user access to the Google Cloud platform and a six-month scholarship to study how the Google Cloud app base can help drive projects. Bassam says:

Techfugees was more than great support for me. This project would not have been possible without Techfugees. They were great enablers and were very encouraging both personally and in terms of technology.

Reducing Information Poverty with Integreat

Following the success of the 2018 Annual Global Challenges Contest, the second social enterprise that has benefited from the support of the organization through its growth plan is Integreat, based in Augsburg, Germany.

The Integreat app is an updated, digitized version of a paper-based brochure that helps one of the social enterprise investors, Tuer a Tuer (Door to Door), enter the labor market for refugees and migrants. , First created in 1999. To provide details of available services to refugees living in the city. However, when the number of asylum seekers moving there in the summer of 2015 reached 100 per week, it was decided that an upgrade was needed.

Fritz of Knier, now one of Integreat’s two co-managing directors, was a student volunteer at Tuer a Tuer at the time and was involved in creating Android-based apps “because most refugees have Android.” It was.

Experts such as lawyers and counselors were also invited to provide the content, and the app was released in November 2015. It supports German, French, English and Arabic and is currently available in 65 cities nationwide. Annual membership fee for its use. Knier describes the value of the app as follows:

Germany is very bureaucratic and has regulations at both the national and local levels. Therefore, the challenge was to provide a daily guide to help refugees negotiate everything. The app not only provides details such as counseling services, but also advises how to contact your doctor for referral to a specialist. There are many services and support programs across the country, but finding around the system is not always easy. Therefore, the purpose was to build a digital bridge to help people help themselves.

When immigrants arrive at their destination and staff members inform them about the app, they can download the app to their smartphones, select their place of residence and language, and search for the support they need in different areas. From health to education.

Integreat is also developing a second translation app to provide access to the jargon needed for apprenticeships of immigrant families attending vocational schools. The first prototype will be available in July. Knier explains the rationale.

Due to the aging population of Germany, there will be no more skilled workers in the next few years. Therefore, the government wants to close the gap with people from other countries where immigrants come.

However, the organization is also expanding overseas. We are about to start a pilot project for an information app in Fairfield, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, to test our models outside Germany. As Knier says:

The situation varies from country to country, but in reality it is important to reduce information poverty and allow people to adapt to different situations wherever they are.

My view

Organizations like Techfugees provide valuable services in areas that are politically difficult and usually lacking in resources. Its needs and requirements can increase as the climate crisis continues to worsen and as a result more and more people are evacuated.

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