Presentation on "Digital initiatives for refugees" at How To workshop in Ghent

For anyone interested, here is the link to the presentation I gave at the "How to ..." workshop run with Veronique de Leener in Ghent

It is not a complete picture (of course), but a list of some interesting projects, Apps and other opportunities taking advantage of digital technology to the benefit of refugees and those helping them.

1. Introduction

2. Voices of Refugees (UK BBC, July 2016)

A study and a film about refugees’ communication behaviours and their priority information needs in three areas: on their journey, in “transit” camps in Greece, and in Germany Based on interviews with 79 refugees and 45 humanitarian actors. resources/research/reports/voices-of-refugees

3. Digital solutions for refugees’ needs

  • Techfugees Digital solutions to address refugees’ 5 priorities (in transit and host countries): infrastructure, education, identity, health and inclusion. They organise donation campaigns, conferences and hackathons to bring together people from tech industry in Europe, U.S. and Australia. Launched by Mike Butcher, editor-at-large for the website TechCrunch.
  • Basefugees A web-based, open source platform, with a curated directory of projects that matches technology solutions to NGO “challenges”. Aims to solve real-world problems faced by refugees and keep people from duplicating efforts (e.g. there are 5-10 “Airbnbs for refugees” in Europe).
  • Geecycle, created at the TechFugees Hack in London to recycle and donate unused smartphones to refugees.

4. ICT training for refugees

Blended courses using MOOC content in 4 study tracks: Business & Economics; Engineering; Computer Science; Social Sciences. Students (Sept 2016) > 1,500 displaced people. Organised the ICT4Refugees conference in Berlin 31/05/2016

  • ReDI School of digital integration (DE) Non-profit school for tech-interested newcomers applying for asylum in Germany. Coding skills to create job opportunities and economic empowerment.

     Projects born among ReDI’s students:

     - Let’s Integrate -> 250 meetups in Berlin, expanding to Frankfurt and Hamburg from October 2016

     - Bureaucrazy crowdfunding for APP to translate German forms into Arabic and English + map of public office + FAQ

5. ICT training for refugees

16-20 year old migrants and asylum seekers from Brussels’ poorest neighborhoods are trained in technical and pedagogical skills to teach coding and programming to younger 10-12 year kids in a playful way. This should enhance the teenagers’ interest in IT careers and job chances and encourage the children to enjoy and improve their IT skills.

  • The online suitecase (Pane e Internet, Italy)

Workshops with asylum seekers in Emilia Romagna to develop DigComp’s “information” and “communication” competences through the creation of an “online suitcase”, accessible from a smartphone and other digital devices, with relevant digital resources about “myself”, “where I live now”, “the wider world”. Late 2016 – mid 2017

6. Digital services to help refugees

  •  Ankommen APP (Google Play and iTunes) designed by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to help newcomers during their first few weeks in Germany -> 174,000 downloads
  • HelpTo born in Potsdam, website for donating or asking for goods and services
  • Scotland Welcomes Refugees Website created by the Scottish government to collect offers for practical support, donation or hosting an event for/about refugees

7. Language learning opportunities

  • Babbel gave out 12,000 free annual subscriptions to its mobile app service (€6 a month) to study German (from 14 languages, not Arabic)
  • Busuu in September 2015 started offering for free its German and English language Premium courses to Arab-speaking refugees (the voucher code only works if you use the App with an Arabic interface)
  • EC from July 2016 extended the OLS platform (Online Linguistic Support to the benefit of around 100,000 refugees over 3 years, on a voluntary basis and free of charge, through intermediary organisations. Courses include self-paced modules and “live coaching" interactive activities (online MOOCs, tutoring sessions and forums).

Check other materials for Digital Storytelling workshop, including tips and recommendations on how to run such a service, in the blogpost How to run a Digital Storytelling servie for migrants and refugees.

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Comment by Stefano Kluzer on October 27, 2016 at 22:06

For anyone interested on refugees and digital technology a MUST READ (just published) is Megan Benton's report "Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs Are Supporting Refugee Integration" at

On Nov 23, 16:00 CET, Cities of Migration runs the open free webinar "Online/Offline: How Technology Can Empower Local Refugee Communities" with Jospephine Goube of Techfugees and Alan Vernon, Lead for UNHCR’s Connectivity for Refugees Programme (UNHCR just published its policy report/proposal on the topic at

Comment by Gabriela Ruseva on October 26, 2016 at 12:29

Thanks, Stefano, this is a great collection of initiatives! I would like to invite members of Unite IT to share their own programs and projects, or projects they know of happening in their countries! Please do so in a comment under this blogpost!

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