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Refugees: Online Media and Technology to the Service of Refugees

This post is part of our special coverage on Refugees.

Two different organizations are focusing on the benefits and advantages of online media and technology to aid refugees and improve their lives. The first, Refugees United, uses online databases that can be accessed through mobile platforms to reunite refugees who have lost track of family members and the next, HKRefugeeInfoChannel provides legal and welfare information to refugees in Hong Kong through YouTube videos.

Refugees United started off as a pilot in Northern Uganda that is now spreading to other African countries and other areas of the world where natural disasters, political unrest and violence have caused massed evacuations and people to get separated from their kin and loved ones. Through an anonymous database, refugees can create a profile where they can share details about their lives that will be recognizable by kin who go online through a computer or using cellphones.

In Lost and Found, four refugees tell their stories of escape and loss, and what it is like for them to go on with their lives not knowing about their loved ones, not even if they are alive or dead. Although different NGOs have done efforts in the past to reunite refugee families, handwritten papers and photographs aren't easily shared by multiple organizations and across international borders. With the ability to have an online repository that different organizations and individuals can join and search through, the possibility to unite families is increased.

In Hong Kong, a multilingual channel has become available through YouTube videos for refugees to get answers to common questions on legal, health and education issues. For example, in a video, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong Kelley Loper explains what are the differences between a refugee and an asylum seeker.

Or this video explains the process a refugee needs to follow if they need to receive medical attention:

A successful reconnection story of refugees is told in the Refugees United Blog: a family separated in South Kivu due to violence and who although they don't have their own phones with internet access or funds to use internet cafes, have been able to use the software through community liaisons to discover the whereabouts of family members and find their kin. You can also follow the progress of Refugees United through their Facebook page.

This post is part of our special coverage on Refugees.

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