We know the incredible positive impact connectivity has on those directly affected by disaster and displacement. The stories of reconnection with family and friends, finding essential needs such as food and shelter, opportunities for employment, training, and education, and even the simple yet necessary need for entertainment and cultural connection, are important qualitative and quantifiable markers of the effect humanitarian work has on beneficiaries.
But these actions also affect the people who implement the connectivity that facilitates these results. Back in 2015, NetHope led the Syrian Refugee Connectivity Alliance, installing internet and charging station solutions in 98 sites in Greece, Northern Macedonia, Slovenia, and Serbia, with the majority in Greece between November 2015 and December 2016. This connectivity has continued today due to extended funding provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). To date, over one million users have benefited from these services, critical for these refugees’ long and perilous journey to safety and normalcy.
But of course, the real stories often are writ between the numbers. Dag Brynjarsson, from the Icelandic Search and Rescue and a member of NetHope’s connectivity team, was part of the initial group deployed to do assessments and installations in Greece. As people began to pour into the refugee settlements set up by the Greek government, it was often a tense predicament as Syrian groups with historically uneasy relationships were made to cohabitate in the same locations. But Brynjarsson details an incident with these incompatible groups that was a defining—and emotional—moment that he still carries with him today. Watch the video for his powerful, personal story.
We thank the original partners who provided funding, technical and equipment, assistance, and expertise for the first portion of this project—Cisco, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and The Patterson Foundation—and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a UN agency that oversees migrant and refugee programs around the world, which extended funding to see the program through to the end of 2019.
Read past posts on the Syrian Refugee Crisis: