A team of activists from Hungary has developed an app called InfoAid designed to help refugees urgently seeking assistance. Asylum seekers who are right now travelling through Europe can receive vital up-to-date information direct to their smartphone.
Which border crossing is open? Where and when are buses leaving and where are they going? Which countries have new asylum laws? The list of questions that refugees have as they make their way through Europe via the Balkans is long. Answers are rarely found. The only link to the outside world in this unsafe and chaotic situation is the smartphone. To this end, smartphones are, for refugees, survival tools.
"Bewildered people don't know what is happening to them, they are starved of information -- sometimes deliberately, if it suits the authorities," Nina Kov, one of the founders of InfoAid, told AFP.
Up-to-date Info About Bus Transport, Border Crossings and Asylum Law
This lack of information was the straw that broke the camel's back for Ms. Kov. She teamed up with her husband and two programmer friends of hers and got to work. In two days, the app InfoAid was ready. "We are sending anyone who downloads it the latest news on border closures, who is bussing from where to where, the latest asylum procedures, news on Hungary's new laws and so on," Kov told AFP.
The app can be downloaded for free on Android phones and is available in six languages: Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, Farsi, English and Hungarian. Around 700 people use the app daily while over 100 new users download it per day. The small group of activists relies on word-of-mouth promotion and is seeking additional translators in order to expand the range of languages on offer. "If we can find more translators we can add more languages. Greek is next in line so that activists there can let refugees heading north [know] what to expect," Kov said.
Born in Paris, Kov herself comes from a family with a refugee background. Her German-ethnic grandfather was forced to flee his home in Romania in 1946 while her Russian father migrated from Hungary to France in the 1970s. "Everyone in Europe has refugee blood, if you look deep enough inside," Kov told AFP.
Download the InfoAid app here.
Translated from this article by Adam which appeared on our German platform.