"The current refugee crisis is the world's most pressing humanitarian challenge....This refugee crisis...is the first mass displacement of the digital age....These phenomena are creating a demand for mobile network operators to step into new roles: as essential partners in response, providers of services for populations on the move, and humanitarian responders in their own right."
The GSMA Disaster Response programme launched this portal in September 2016 to share examples of refugee-focused initiatives utilising mobile technology that are being undertaken by mobile network operators (MNOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and civil society groups. Its goal is to begin the work of capturing the range of existing initiatives and showcasing positive impact that the mobile industry can have on refugees, thereby "creating a starting point for this industry-wide conversation and a resource for those seeking to implement similar initiatives."
The portal includes case studies, interviews with key figures leading this work in the mobile and humanitarian sectors, a resource library, and a gallery of images. It also features a selection of news reports and advocacy films, such as the one below from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) about Syria's 1.1 million refugee children. These films illustrate the importance of connectivity and mobile phones to refugees.
The GSMA Disaster Response programme, established in 2012 with funding from the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), supports MNOs in preparing for and responding to both natural disaster and complex emergencies. Recognising the importance of communication and access to information for affected people, the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, launched in 2015, acts as a banner under which industry activities can be collectively promoted.
Email from Jenny Casswell to The Communication Initiative on February 13 2017. Image caption/credit: "Refugees and migrants arrive on the shores of the island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey". © UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis