With an estimated 42.2 million refugees worldwide, the task of reconnecting families who have been separated is a daunting one. Through partnering with MNO’s, Refugees United, the world’s largest global family tracing platform for refugees, is harnessing the unique potential of mobile in facilitating family reconnection.
Refugees United aims to empower refugees to take the search for missing loves ones into their own hands, through a mobile device. Achieving this goal requires leveraging the scale that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) possess through their infrastructure, brand and reach in even the most remote of places. By providing access to a free, easy-to-use database, registered users are given the chance to search against various identifying criteria, with the ultimate aim of finding a match and reconnecting with loved ones. The platform depends upon a number of partnerships, on MNO engagement, and support from technology vendors. It further benefits from on-the-ground collaboration with humanitarian groups.
Co-Founder of Refugees United, Christopher Mikkelsen comments “Connectivity is there. Our technology is there. Now what is left is for us to collaborate, to share our knowledge, to help those less fortunate.”
Public-private partnership with the mobile industry is enabling Refugees United to carry out family tracing work on a scale which would be inconceivable for a small NGO of its size, and indeed for many much larger humanitarian groups.
The key findings of the report are outlined below:
- Mobile Network Operators can enable social change through their scale and access to millions of people
- Mobile Network Operators can be part of an innovative approach to solve a global problem through engaging in a meaningful multi-sector partnership
- Working with a global technology partner like Ericsson enables Refugees United to create a platform with global scale for greatest impact. Mobile technology can empower refugees by giving them agency over their own tracing and reconnection through familiar technology and user-centric platforms
- Refugees United partnerships with MNOs demonstrate the social impact that operators can have in reconnecting loved ones by providing a valuable service to a demographic of their subscribers while building brand equity and customer loyalty
This case study identifies the enabling role that MNOs are able to play in the case of Refugees United, highlighting the transformative capability of mobile communication to bring scale, access and empowerment to end-users. It also demonstrates the importance for continued engagement and innovation between mobile and humanitarian stakeholders.
Photo: Courtesy of Refugees United.