Techfugees, empowering the displaced with technology

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Rubén Escobar (
  • Techfugees Logo. Image: Techfugees
    Techfugees Logo. Image: Techfugees.
  • Meeting of Techfugees in Dublin. Photo: Techfugees
    Meeting of Techfugees in Dublin. Photo: Techfugees.
  • Refugees welcome. Photo: Pixabay
    Refugees welcome. Photo: Pixabay.

Smartphones and technology have changed how people respond to large humanitarian crisis. The aim of the project is giving response to the needs of refugees.

Moved by the plight of refugees in Europe, a number of technology industry people decided to form a voluntary team to create the series of non-profit Techfugees conferences, hackathons and work with a global network of collaborators. In this sense, Techfugees is a social enterprise coordinating the international tech community’s response to the needs of Refugees, meaning that they exist to empower the displaced with technology. How do they do it? Simply by developing five focus area where they carry out their operational goals: infrastructure, education, identity, health and inclusion.

For example, Techfugees provide connectivity and access to the internet and technology either in refugees camps, on the move or in host communities or countries. Apart from that, they have developed online courses, language apps, memory apps and they have online teachers and crowd-source knowledge that helps to offer school education for those that are in need.

One of the things that refugees have to deal with is its own identity, especially important to ease integration into host economies and to recognise issues regarding diplomas or skills. Digitalised papers, e-citizenship and Online ID are key factors to ask for being accepted after for asylum. Moreover, they also provide access to technology innovation for essential care and extra care for trauma and associated medical conditions, as well as tech aids for mental health.

The tech community is an international network made of tech engineers, design, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs all dedicated to working together and sharing learning to come up with tech solutions. They offer different possibilities to collaborate with the project. People volunteer by writing opp, on event organisation, etc, or participating online via social media, via submitting a project or subscribing to their newsletter. They also offer the option of making a donation and partnering with them. Some of the partners that are already working with Techfugees are Schibsted, iHorizon, and Sookio.

Techfugees is politically independent and they organise conferences, workshops, hackathons and meetups in around the world in an effort to generate tech solutions for and with refugees. The aim of the organisation is promoting and pushing tech solutions as a way of keep technology in the global conversation about refugee issues. 

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