STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN -- (Marketwired) -- 06/20/13 --
* In support of World Refugee Day, the Refugees United reconnectionplatform is now made available to thousands of families via a toll-free line anda free simple dial-code application in Kenya with Safaricom, andDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with Vodacom
* Safaricom will support a series of awareness activities, including SMS campaigns for the two largest refugee camps in Kenya, Dadaab and Kakuma
* Vodacom will launch a new hotline for service assistance in DRC
* Global Hackathon winners to be announced during a Google Hangoutfollowing developer contests in Cairo, Nairobi and Silicon Valley
With more than 43 million people forcibly displaced globally due todraught,conflict, or disaster, the need for a service to reconnect separatedfamilies isas pressing as ever. Nearly one million displaced people are in Kenyaalone.Today, Refugees United and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), along with SafaricomandVodacom, are taking a groundbreaking step toward reaching the goal ofconnectingone million refugees on the Refugees United platform by 2015.
Using a free dial code and toll-free lines from Safaricom, displaced peopleinKenya will be able to access the family reconnection platform invented byRefugees United. Additionally, Vodacom is launching a similar service inDRC.
Refugees United is a free, mobile and online platform that allows people tosearch for missing family members, friends, and relatives on a safe andanonymous basis. Until now the platform was only accessible via a computerorinternet-enabled mobile phone. It will now be available through a toll-freelineand via a simple dial-code system, just like users know it from mobilebanking,for example.
Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of Refugees United, says: "Everyone hastheright to know where their family is. Thanks to Ericsson and operatorpartnerslike Safaricom and Vodacom DRC, we can empower refugees to take the searchformissing loved ones into their own hands. Now, families can simply call ourtollfree line or dial a simple short code from their mobile phone to start thesearch for long lost family members or relatives."
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said: "Millions of families have been separatedasthey flee violence and war in their home countries. Refugees Unitedempowersseparated family members to take the search for missing loved ones intotheirown hands."
"This initiative has the power to transform the nature of familyreconnectionfor generations to come. It is an example of how mobile technology is trulychanging the lives of people on the African continent for good. We arelookingfor innovative ways to get this to scale, and partnerships are key tosuccess,"says Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and CorporateResponsibility at Ericsson.
Leveraging the ubiquitous nature of simple mobile phones across Kenya andDRC,the new, simple ways of accessing the Refugees United family reconnectionplatform will serve many more thousands of families in the search for theirmissing loved ones. Ericsson and Refugees United have set a goal to reachonemillion users on the platform by the end of 2015.
In the run-up to World Refugee Day, Ericsson and Refugees United hosted aGlobal Hack for Good" in Cairo, Nairobi and Silicon Valley, wheredeveloperswere tasked with a challenge of coding applications to ensure that theplatformis accessible to families living in refugee camps and remote areas. Theoverallwinner of this global Hack for Good will be announced during a GoogleHangout onJune 20th at 15:00 CET.
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