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Kyla Reid | GSMA | Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:51:09 +0000

This week, world leaders, civil society (and the odd celebrity) have descended on New York City for UN General Assembly week. The focus this year shifts to the urgency of the refugee and migrant crisis. It is clear that without addressing the over 60 million people who are forcibly displaced worldwide, approximately 21.3 million of whom are refugees, achieving the SDGs will be near impossible. One of the flagship events this week was the High Level Summit for Refugees and Migrants that took place on Monday, where our GSMA Director General, Mats Granryd addressed UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and world leaders to emphasise the importance of mobile connectivity for refugees. They called for greater efforts from industry, public and private sector actors and civil society to work together to ensure that this lifeline can be accessed by those who most need it.




93 per centof refugees live in areas with at least 2G coverage – recent research conducted by UNHCR highlights that 75 per cent of refugee households already have a phone and that a significant proportion prioritise spending money on mobile phone credit and charging their devices in order to connect with family and friends and access essential information. Reflecting this, the humanitarian community is gradually transitioning to the digitisation of aid – with the promise of more efficient, accountable and dignified assistance enabled through mobile and other technologies. Through our GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, we have been championing that communication is a form of humanitarian assistance in itself – the ability to call for help, access critical health information, re-connect with loved ones, access money – are all facilitated and accelerated through mobile technology. Nowhere is the ability to connect and communicate more important than to those facing crisis, separation and suffering.

Refugees and Connectivity portal

In order to raise awareness of the importance of connectivity along the refugee journey, the GSMA today is also launching the Refugees and Connectivity portal – a website dedicated to shining a light on where and how mobile technology is making a difference in the lives of refugees. The portal features case studies, fact sheets, interviews and other resources to inform, educate and encourage the replication of services and programmes that are having an impact, and which reflect the breadth of ways that GSMA members and partners are reaching refugees with new solutions. For example, refugee specific tariffs in Lebanon, or a real-time Arabic to Turkish translation app in Turkey. This global challenge will not go away overnight and it requires new approaches and partnerships that can reduce suffering and preserve the dignity of those affected by crisis. We are proud to launch this refugee resource portal today, with the support of the UK Department for International Development and hope to populate this platform with more innovations and services that support displaced populations.

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