Today we are experiencing the biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the second World War. In fact, there are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and of that, 10 million stateless individuals. Aid organizations, intergovernmental organizations and nonprofits are all looking to support displaced people, and while the situation is complex – especially with an amalgamation of languages, regions, rules and regulations -- one partnership is now working to provide on-the-ground information to help refugees and asylum-seekers start successful new lives.
Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) together launched Refugee.Info, a website with a social media component to help refugees and asylum-seekers find the information they need when they arrive in a new region. The online experience helps answer critical questions that vary country by country, including “how they can find work, which documents they need, whether they can receive cash assistance and how they can learn the language of their newly adopted country.”
Refugee.Info works because it provides location-specific information in real-time, as migrants often have difficulty accessing aid or humanitarian organizations when they first reach a new region, and while many refugees may leave their homelands with very little, most do travel with a smartphone. To bring the technology to scale, Mercy Corps and IRC have enlisted the financial and technical support of Google, Microsoft, Cisco and TripAdvisor, and recently celebrated an important landmark: serving 1 million individuals.
As the migration crisis continues to build, it is clear that no one country, or organization, can solve it alone. However, the partnership of Mercy Corps and IRC with companies dedicated to the issue has created a solution that provides immediate relief through a very simple concept: access to information. As refugees settle in new areas, Refugee.Info allows the transition to be perhaps incrementally easier, which helps local governments, aid organizations and intergovernmental organizations be that much more effective.