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Connectivity as a lifeline

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Connectivity as a lifeline

28 March 2017 / Brussels, Belgium

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking an unprecedented crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx. At a time when Europe is receiving such extraordinary numbers of refugees, supporting national governments in tackling this situation is a key priority for the EU. Internet and mobile communications – which have transformed life in both the industrialized and developing worlds in the last 25 years – can thus become a lifeline for refugees and helping EU Member States in facilitating social, cultural, political and economic integration of the new arrivals.

As well as being crucial for keeping in touch with loved ones, many refugees view access to a mobile phone and the internet as being as critical to their safety and security as food, water and shelter. Lack of internet access constrains the capacity of refugee communities to organize and empower themselves, limiting potential for self-reliance and livelihoods. Moreover, connectivity is a vital need to get in touch with the local, national and global communities around them. Innovative applications and information services are thus necessary for integration and inclusion of all refugees and migrants. The digital revolution cannot leave them behind.

In the context of these discussions, the upcoming MMS event will look at the role of the mobile and humanitarian sectors in empowering displaced people through enhanced connectivity:

  • In what ways have we seen mobile connectivity positively impact refugees travelling to and settling in European countries?
  • How to improve connectivity for refugees and what is the role of the mobile and humanitarian sector?
  • What are the current barriers for refugees to access mobile technology services once in Europe?
  • Which lessons can be learnt from successful partnerships in other regions, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa, to solve the connectivity challenge?What role can EU institutions play in supporting connectivity for refugees?

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