Partnership between Telesom and Refugees United to reconnect Somaliland’s Separated Families
For refugees, returnees and internally displaced families living in Somaliland, a new partnership between Refugees United and Telesom will provide life-altering resources to those searching for lost loved ones. Through a countrywide SMS campaign, a toll free Help Line, and an SMS short code, families who have been separated for years may be only one phone call or text message away from finding each other again.
“Partnerships like these provide us with the opportunity to change thousands of lives,” says Refugees United’s co-founder Mr. Christopher Mikkelsen. “Everyone has a right to know where their family is. A company with the reach of Telesom allows us to convey that message to the families who need to hear it the most.”
The overall aim is to encourage families to register on the global family-tracing platform pioneered by Refugees United and made mobile by Ericsson, the lead technology partner of the initiative, providing technical expertise for service development and engagement with mobile operators Already, more than 100,000 Somalis in search of missing family have been helped onto the tracing platform in Kenya, Somalia and elsewhere, and this initiative will undoubtedly help many families back together.
According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide has reached 45.2 million. Somaliland sits amid one of the most volatile regions for refugees and internally displaced people, with both historic conflicts, natural disasters like drought, and new emergencies forcing people from their homes. Somaliland hosts 84,000 internally displaced people and 1919 recognized refugees according to UNHCR.
The campaigns will target settlements and areas in which Somali refugees, returnees and internally displaced people live. To reach these families, Telesom has donated 13 million SMS messages, which will be sent throughout these areas. The company has also established a free Help Line – 169 – that links to a call center where Somali families can register on Refugees United’s platform. Finally, the SMS short code allows users to register themselves using low-tech mobile phones that do not have Internet connectivity.
“We’re making it as easy as possible to reach the people who are most in need of these services,” says Telesom CEO, Mr. Abdikarim Mohamed Eid. “Refugees United is running a platform that brings families together. We’re thrilled to do what we can in making sure that this opportunity is available to anyone who needs to find their missing loved ones.”
The hotline and SMS short code will be free of charge to all Telesom subscribers. Refugees United believes the partnership will increase participation in the platform throughout Somaliland and will further their goal of bringing one million people onto the platform by 2015.
“This partnership between Telesom and Refugees United is a prime example of how people separated by conflict or natural disaster can use the powers of technology and innovation to reconnect with their loved ones. It allows us all to get one step closer to ensuring that the vital bonds of family and friendship remain intact, even in the most difficult and desperate of situations,” says Mr. Gavin Roy, Resident Coordination Adviser at United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Hargeisa.
Photo from left: Mr. Christopher Mikkelsen (Co-CEO of Refugees United), Mr. Gavin Roy (Resident Coordination Adviser at United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Hargeisa) and Mr. Abdikarim Mohamed Eid (CEO of Telesom.)
Ida Jeng, Refugees United’s Communication Manager. Mobile: + 45 31 49 31 93 / email: email@example.com.
About Refugees United
Refugees United is a tech non-profit with the mission of reconnecting separated families across the globe via a mobile tracing service that empowers people to take the search process into their own hands. The platform is currently helping more than 250,000 displaced people in their search for missing loved ones. How to search for family:
Telesom is a privately held company, founded in 2001. Being the number one telecom company in Somaliland, Telesom takes pride in having the competence and the ability to combine the quality standard of the telecom industry. www.telesom.net.
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