Refugees United, Zain and Ericsson launch mobile service to reconnect Syrian families

March 2, 2014 4:28 pm

In response to the current crisis in Syria, where the United Nations estimates that people are being displaced at the rate of one every 15 seconds, Refugees United in partnership with Zain Group through its operation in Jordan, the Kingdom’s leading mobile operator and Ericsson is expanding the family reconnection service into the Middle East.

This new initiative was announced last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and aims to reconnect more than 500,000 displaced Syrians residing in Jordan by helping them locate each other by registering who they are and who they are searching for via a mobile search engine. According to UNHCR, there are over 4 million Syrians internally displaced and over 2.4 million displaced in neighboring countries.

A toll-free line has been set-up by Zain to accelerate registrations of displaced Syrians in Jordan, as well as providing a free SMS notification service to those who have registered on the reconnection service.

Ericsson is the technology partner to the initiative, helping to develop and maintain the overall mobile platform and will provide technical support and integration of the tool into the Zain mobile network. Capitalizing on the ever-growing mobile phone usage across the region, Refugees United empowers refugees to take the search for missing family into their own hands – from any device.

Scott Gegenheimer, Zain Group CEO, commented: “Mobile telecommunications have played a critical part in saving countless people’s lives and rejoining families in emergency situations all over the world. The need to act and support people in dire situations such as those suffered by Syrian refugees is as pressing as ever. Joining this initiative reconfirms Zain’s commitment of utilizing vital telecommunications to provide an important human service.”

Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of Refugees United, says: “Everyone has the right to know where their family is. We are seeing camps quickly become crowded and family members losing touch with each other. We hope that the launch of this service and our toll-free line can prevent some family tragedies.”

He further added, “Each family reconnection is special – for Syria time is of the essence, giving hope in a hopeless moment for Syrians.”

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson, says: “The current crisis in Syria is a tragic example of how thousands of people are being displaced every single day, putting immense tolls on individual families that are being uprooted and torn apart. The service has proven successful in Africa, and now we want to bring this to the Middle East to address the Syrian crisis. We hope more operators will join us in deploying the service, and we are grateful to Zain for its leadership.”

At the Zaatari camp in Jordan that provides facilities for most of the Syrian refugees, SMS’s will be sent out to people in the area by Zain Jordan offering an opportunity to register cost-free for the service,. The toll-free hotline will be established and will be manned out of a Refugees United office, where people can get help with registrations and other questions.

For further information, please contact:

Mohammad Abbas
CEO Office
Corporate Communications & Relations
Zain Head Office Bldg, Shuwaikh
PO Box 22244, Safat, 13083 Kuwait
+965 99614420