According to the UN there are currently 65.3m refugees globally. By this statistic, 1 in every 113 people in the planet are displaced. *
For refugees fleeing persecution, war and violence in their home countries, a smartphone has become so much more than just a tool for communication, it’s a lifeline.
Using mobile phones, refugees in camps across Europe can ensure the safety of friends and family. They can instantly connect with a loved one and find out where they are and how they are doing. They can arrange to meet and help to guide each other through the long migration process.
For a refugee whose home country is in turmoil, using data on their phones to check the news for updates can help to ease their worries and help them to make informed decisions on their next move.
Phones also offer safety. If a person is in danger, they can call for help. One example of the power of the mobile phone was the story of Ahmed, a young Afghan refugee who was suffocating in an overcrowded lorry container. Ahmed sent a text to the charity Help Refugees in desperation and was rescued. (The full story is available here)
As a result of this need for this vital resource, mobile credit and top-up are in high demand in refugee camps. The charity, Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced People, began in February of this year and so far has raised over £40,000 worth of top-up to refugees in the French camp at Calais. With just a small, dedicated team and a Facebook group, they have managed to make the lives of thousands of refugees just a little bit easier.
Organisers of the charity, Rhian Prescott and James Pearce, spoke to us about one very human use for mobile phones in Calais, entertainment. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that for the people living in the camps, there are very few activities to overcome the boredom of daily life. Many use their phones to watch YouTube videos, or to listen to music, simple pleasures to break the monotony.
James and Rhian have shared the stories of how some of the refugees are using the top-up to date.
"Thaeer uses his credit to stay in touch with loved ones on social media and for GPS when he is travelling."
"Zein (17 yrs old) uses his credit to speak to his Mother in Syria and to watch YouTube to break up the boredom of camp life."
"Osama uses his credit to speak to members of his family who are stuck in Turkey and to his friends in the camp."
Today is World Refugee Day. This day is dedicated to raising awareness for the millions of displaced people globally. Click the link below to make a donation to the Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced People.
*Source: BBC News