Technology cannot solve all the world’s problems, but it can create a reliable solution to most current issues. One of these issues is the global refugee crisis that has been plaguing the world for decades. According to the UNHCR, the number of refugees worldwide is now more than 50 million people. In 2014, almost one million people crossed the Mediterranean as refugees. So, what can technology do to alleviate these problems?
As the world tries to reduce the refugee crisis, some experts have noted that technology can provide some solutions. Technology streamlines refugee activities and helps them in integrating into the new community. For instance, refugees can put their skills online, and local people can hire them. There are also new companies that match employers with the refugees.
Similarly, many refugees want to talk to their families back home. Technology creates a platform where friends and family can know the progress of refugees. Some people have been known to sell their food rations so that they can buy internet data.
Many companies have also started using technology to create sustainable solutions for refugees. Refugees can now access social events, education, health, and rights by using technology. There are even hackathons where refugees brainstorm on new solutions. Some of the solutions that have come out of these hackathon events include blockchain to connect employees with refugees. For instance, some NGOs are offering water softeners with ample capacity to refugees.
Many universities and institutions of higher learning are using technology to provide education services to refugees. Princeton and Geneva universities have already started offering higher education to refugees in the Kakuma camp in Kenya. NGOs have also become part of this movement, with many of them offering laptops, phones, and tablets to refugees. Others are offering internet access. There is no doubt that the education of refugees will dramatically improve if more technological innovations are discovered.
These education opportunities are not just for adults. Children of refugees have also been catered for by new technological improvements. For example, some refugee camps in western Ghana have been connected to satellite internet. As a result, children living in those camps can have a two-way conversation with teachers in other countries. The NGOs have also created projectors and durable computers, many of which are powered by solar energy.
But perhaps the most significant breakthrough is the use of mobile technology in the provision of education services. Mobile phones are flexible and easily changeable. In places where refugees have to move consistently, fixed classrooms can be a problem. That is why mobile education is so important.
Refugee camps are vulnerable to infectious diseases and other unhealthy conditions. Humanitarian services have been looking for ways to diagnose diseases quickly and other ailments. Fortunately, many diagnostic technologies have been developed in the last few years.
Hospitals and pharmacy services can now prescribe treatments and medication to refugees without being physically present. In Lebanon, health services have improved dramatically among refugees due to the use of telehealth services. For example, pregnant women can receive antenatal checkups.
At the same time, many applications are providing essential medical services through mobile apps. Refugees can navigate their medical journey by using these applications. The demand for internet data is creating businesses for refugees. Governments and network operators are working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to create 3G and 4G towers in various camps.
Artificial intelligence and the internet of things have also appeared on the scene. AI programs are being used to track diseases, infections, and treatment rates.
The journey of crossing borders, entering a new country, and getting accommodation in refugee camps is daunting. Many refugees don’t complete that journey alive. If they do reach their destination, they will still need to earn an income. But these people don’t know the local employment terrain and how companies hire people. The solution is using technology.
Researchers from many universities have developed software that helps companies recruit talent from refugee organizations. Software developed by the University of Oxford has already found employment for hundreds of refugees. The initial tests were done in the United States, but there’s no doubt that this technology will soon be used in third-world countries.
The global refugee crisis is unlikely to end soon. While strategic measures such as peace talks and strong national institutions are needed, technology can help refugees solve the immediate problems.