Broadband for all.
This website reflects a project to create a Global Broadband Plan for Refugees (the Project). It reflects the increasing recognition that in addition to emergency responses, the world’s growing refugee population requires investments in long-term solutions, and that in today’s connected world, a sound investment strategy should include initiatives that increase refugee access to broadband.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has demonstrated many ways in which information technologies can aid refugees, such as keeping in touch with families and communities, helping them remain safe, providing health and educational services, and supporting livelihoods. In that light, UNHCR set a goal of ensuring that “all refugees, and the communities that host them, are connected to mobile networks and the Internet so that they can leverage these technologies to improve their lives.”
Unfortunately, there is a large gap between that aspiration and today’s reality. Refugees find themselves in a variety of circumstances but in all, generally find themselves less connected than the surrounding population, which itself is far from the universal goal set by the UNHCR.
So how should the universal connectivity goals set by the UNHCR be achieved? There are many admirable examples of ad hoc efforts to address the connectivity needs of a specific refugee community, and, in addition most host countries either have, or are in the process of adopting, strategies and plans to close broadband related gaps among their own population. The same strategies and actions that could improve broadband their own populations can be utilized to improve broadband for refugees, expanding the reach of current private efforts to assist refugees by, for example, capturing synergies between donor pledges of support and specific broadband-related investments and policies in host countries.
The time is right for a more systemic approach that takes into account opportunities created by technology developments, lessons learned in addressing connectivity needs around the world, and the priorities of countries that host refugee and migrant populations, including those expressed in national broadband plans. Moreover, for both economic and political reasons, the most likely path to success in connecting refugees is to do so in ways that connect others in host countries through the same process. The Project is focused on illuminating those opportunities.
The Global Broadband Team