The International Humanitarian Studies Association is a network engaged with the study of humanitarian crises caused by natural disaster, conflict or political instability.

Connected Refugees: Opportunities and Challenges of Communication Technologies for Refugees

Submitted by Benjamin Hounsell, Hervé Nicolle, Samuel Hall
In theme The Impact of Technology and Innovation in Coping with, Responding to and Transforming Crisis

Information Communication Technology (ICT), especially smartphones, provide a gateway through which refugees fleeing conflict or persecution communicate with friends and family and access vital, sometimes lifesaving information. Poor cellphone coverage and the absence of 3G (data) are just some of the challenges refugees face using ICT as they make their journey.

Similar challenges in ICT access are also faced within the refugee settlements of host countries, particularly in under developed regions such as East Africa. Indeed, refugees living in rural and urban settlements mirror many of the circumstances faced by other low-income households in terms of access to financial services, quality education and productive long-term employment. If innovations in ICT can be used to leverage viable business models that deliver sustainable solutions to refugees, then these same solutions may prove highly effective for other low-income households across East Africa and beyond.

Based on a number of detailed case studies, this panel will explore how access to ICT impacts the migration and settlement of refugees and the opportunities for the delivery of new digital services this presents.