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Congolese Siblings Reconnect after Years of Separation

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The story below was recalled by Congolese refugees Belle* and Marie.* The details described are accurate to the best of their recollection.

April 14, 2014 — Imagine surviving violent civil unrest only to discover that your sister is missing. Imagine your search for her yields only evidence that she has perished in her attempt to escape. Imagine drawing strength from your one remaining sibling as you arrange for her funeral and perform a traditional burial ceremony in her honor.

And imagine learning more than a decade later that the sister whose funeral you arranged is alive and well in the United States. 

This is the story of Belle and Marie, two sisters currently living in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. In 2003, the women were separated from their sister, Julienne, when war broke out in their home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Eleven years later, after rumors convinced them Julienne was dead, the sisters were reconnected over the REFUNITE mobile platform.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 15th 2014

A Mother’s 5 Year Search for Her Daughter

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The story below was recalled by Somali refugee Binti. The details described are accurate to the best of her recollection.

The REFUNITE mobile application described below is available only to adult (over 18) members of separated families in search of loved ones. 

April 4, 2014 — This is the story of Binti* – mother of three adult children, victim of war, and refugee – and of her reconnection with her oldest daughter Filan.* After years of searching, Binti discovered REFUNITE and used the mobile family-tracing platform to locate her daughter.

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Posted on Friday, April 4th 2014

Reaching Families in Any Language

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April 3, 2014 — There is a moment of silence as I watch the video image of Abel Wabella’s lips moving on my laptop screen, a delay before I hear the broken trail of his voice in the headphones that I’m pressing against my ears. Then, fragmented by my weak internet connection, his voice cuts through: “It’s not something you hear about on traditional media,” Abel is saying. “That people can disappear, vanish – that you can’t find them without help. But we can raise the profile of these stories. That’s why I am very happy to be a part of this project.”

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Posted on Thursday, April 3rd 2014

April 3, 2014 — Last week, REFUNITE’s tech team traveled to Eastleigh, Nairobi for a user testing focus group with Somali refugees who were accessing the platform for the first time.

Watch this short video to see our team in action, growing our user base while learning how to refine our mobile application and serve even more refugees. More than fifteen Somali refugees joined our focus group to learn how they could take the search for their missing loved ones into their own hands. 

Video by Carolyn Nash, Communications Coordinator for REFUNITE (cn@refunite.org)

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd 2014

Outreach and Awareness Forum in Ruiru, Kenya

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March 28, 2014 — Outreach Coordinator and Community Ambassador Farhiya Shazz Hussein recently participated in a UNCHR-organized outreach campaign in Ruiru, Kenya. The forum provided information to urban refugees living outside of Nairobi in efforts to ensure that all refugees in Kenya have access to the services they need. In response to the worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the outreach focused on attracting South Sudanese refugees, who are fleeing the country at a rate of nearly 2,000 people per day, according to UNHCR. 

Above, Farhiya explains the Refugees United platform and encourages participants to register themselves and their missing loved ones. 

Posted on Friday, March 28th 2014

Harnessing the Power of Radio to Reconnect Families

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March 24, 2014 — “Radio has been my dream since I began working on my undergraduate degree,” Audrey Wabwire says. She flashes an infectious smile, her blue nail polish glistening as her hand trails through the air. “I loved it so much – I could create so many things and reach people who lived in places I’d never been.” 

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Posted on Monday, March 24th 2014

Mobile Outreach in Kenya’s “Little Mogadishu”

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Carolyn Nash, Communications Coordinator, reports on her recent trip to Eastleigh, Nairobi. 

March 3, 2014 — On a recent Friday morning, I met IT Director Julie Rix Bagger, on visit from Copenhagen, in Eastleigh, the oft-described “Little Mogadishu” of Kenya, to observe the door-to-door activities that our outreach team operates on a daily basis. Our guide, Refugees United (RU) Outreach Coordinator Farhiya Hussein, joined us just outside her home, flashing a relaxed smile as she prepared to do what she does everyday: register refugees in search of missing loved ones.

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Posted on Tuesday, March 4th 2014

Refugees United Joins Online Movement Global Voices 

March 3, 2014 – From the first days of Refugees United’s founding, our belief that everyone has a right to know where their family is has guided not only our own work but also our partnerships. How can we, for example, be of service to families who have fled violence and arrived in foreign countries with languages they have never spoken?

Posted on Tuesday, March 4th 2014

Source vimeo.com

Refugees United, Ericsson and Mobile Operators Join to Reconnect Syrian Families

PRESS RELEASE, 24 FEBRUARY 2014:

  • Ericsson and operators in Middle East announce the launch of the Refugees United (RU) service to help reach the nearly 800,000 Syrian refugees residing in Jordan and Iraq
  • According to the UN, an estimated 2.4 million refugees from Syria have been forced to move to surrounding countries
  • The Refugees United family reconnection platform will be made available to Syrian families via a mobile application and toll-free lines; awareness will be created using SMS campaigns in the countries surrounding Syria

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Posted on Monday, February 24th 2014