Every day, people are forced to leave their homes, villages or countries – some of them never go back. The reasons behind this are manifold: war, hunger, exploitation, political persecution while more and more leave because of climate change. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, over 51 million people are currently displaced or stateless. It goes without saying that long-term political solutions are needed for these people. However, on other levels, there are approaches that are building positive momentum. For our latest RESET special, we take a look at how digital tools and initiatives are being put to use in this field.
Around three percent of the world's population is currently displaced, the highest this number has been since the second world war. This number is comprised primarily of three groups of people: refugees (16.7 million); asylum seekers (1.1 million); and internally displaced persons (33.3 million). ''We are not facing an increasing trend, we are really facing a quantum leap, an enormous increase of forced displacement in our world,'' says Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner. Some of these displaced people are able to return to their homes after a period of time. Others often spend years in refugee camps or pay dubious people to arrange dangerous passage into foreign countries where they seek asylum. Among these are so-called climate refugees – people whose homes are threatened due to rising sea levels or have become unliveable in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Above all, these people require help and support.
A number of organisations and projects are already engaged in refugee aid. Many of these focus primarily on meeting the immediate health and legal needs of refugees and asylum seekers such as accommodation, water, clothing and medical care. At the same time, projects and initiatives that focus on integrating asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants as well as shifting societal attitudes are becoming increasingly important.
The RESET special 'Refugee Aid 2.0' will, over the next few days, introduce projects that use digital tools in the realm of refugee aid and support including Freifunk, which provides free web access to refugees; the platform 'Flüchtlinge Willkommen' (refugees welcome), which offers rooms in flatshares to refugees; and the service Refunite, which helps to connect refugees that have been separated from their loved ones. We will also look at how the app Gherbtna is helping Syrian refugees in Turkey. All this and more to come over the next week – stay tuned!
Want to dive right into this topic straight away? Take a look at how climate change is forcing people to leave their homes: Environmental Refugees – How Climate Change Affects People's Lives.