Refugees United and Ericsson broaden reconnection services with Safaricom and Vodacom
• In support of World Refugee Day, the Refugees United reconnection platform is now made available to thousands of families via a toll-free line and a free simple dial-code application in Kenya with Safaricom, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with Vodacom
• Safaricom will support a series of awareness activities, including SMS campaigns for the two largest refugee camps in Kenya, Dadaab and Kakuma
• Vodacom will launch a new hotline for service assistance in DRC
• Global Hackathon winners to be announced during a Google Hangout following developer contests in Cairo, Nairobi and Silicon Valley
With more than 43 million people forcibly displaced globally due to draught, conflict, or disaster, the need for a service to reconnect separated families is as pressing as ever. Nearly one million displaced people are in Kenya alone. Today, Refugees United and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), along with Safaricom and Vodacom, are taking a groundbreaking step toward reaching the goal of connecting one million refugees on the Refugees United platform by 2015.
Using a free dial code and toll-free lines from Safaricom, displaced people in Kenya will be able to access the family reconnection platform invented by Refugees United. Additionally, Vodacom is launching a similar service in DRC.
Refugees United is a free, mobile and online platform that allows people to search for missing family members, friends, and relatives on a safe and anonymous basis. Until now the platform was only accessible via a computer or internet-enabled mobile phone. It will now be available through a toll-free line and via a simple dial-code system, just like users know it from mobile banking, for example.
Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of Refugees United, says: “Everyone has the right to know where their family is. Thanks to Ericsson and operator partners like Safaricom and Vodacom DRC, we can empower refugees to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands. Now, families can simply call our toll free line or dial a simple short code from their mobile phone to start the search for long lost family members or relatives.”
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said: “Millions of families have been separated as they flee violence and war in their home countries. Refugees United empowers separated family members to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands.”
“This initiative has the power to transform the nature of family reconnection for generations to come. It is an example of how mobile technology is truly changing the lives of people on the African continent for good. We are looking for innovative ways to get this to scale, and partnerships are key to success,” says Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson.
Leveraging the ubiquitous nature of simple mobile phones across Kenya and DRC, the new, simple ways of accessing the Refugees United family reconnection platform will serve many more thousands of families in the search for their missing loved ones. Ericsson and Refugees United have set a goal to reach one million users on the platform by the end of 2015.
In the run-up to World Refugee Day, Ericsson and Refugees United hosted a Global Hack for Good" in Cairo, Nairobi and Silicon Valley, where developers were tasked with a challenge of coding applications to ensure that the platform is accessible to families living in refugee camps and remote areas. The overall winner of this global Hack for Good will be announced during a Google Hangout on June 20th at 15:00 CET.
Join the Hangout here.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Refugees United
Refugees United, www.refunite.org is a tech non-profit with the mission of reconnecting separated families. The Refugees United service is accessible via a computer or any entry-level mobile phone and is free of charge. Users provide only the amount of information that they themselves find safe to share, which give them the opportunity of staying anonymous. Www.refunite.org is available in multiple languages and contains searchable profiles of more than 180,000 users.
Collaborating with large mobile network operators like Safaricom in Kenya and Vodacom in DRC, Refugees United is able to leverage the mobile platform free of charge to families in some of the world’s most refugee prone countries. Refugees United also collaborates with Kenya Red Cross Society and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Ericsson supports Refugees United as main technology partner.
The Story of Refugees United: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6DLgkO8hkk
The story of Estelle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye1arNU-2xM
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