Today is World Refugee Day. Safaricom, Ericsson and Refugees United have come together to make it easier for refugees to be united with their loved ones. The partnership will see Safaricom offers its 17 Million plus clients database for an app jointly developed by Ericsson and Refugee. The mobile site enables refugees to access Refugees United’s mobile site –, register themselves (in English, Kiswahili, Somali or Arabic), search for and subsequently reconnect with loved ones.

Once registered, the information is stored in an anonymous database that is maintained by Refugees United. It can then be accessed by individuals as well as NGOs and international organizations caring for displaced people, to rapidly search for matches. Locating displaced family members can take years when relying on traditional paper based systems.

The mobile application is being deployed to augment existing access to the Refugees United’s internet service ( more than 17 million Safaricom subscribers in Kenya today, as compared to the estimated 820’000 PC owners with access to internet (2 percent of the population of Kenya), the service via mobile phones is the obvious tool for this kind of support in Kenya and will soon be extended to allow SMS access by Safaricom customers.

Safaricom CEO, Mr. Bob Collymore: “This is a great and innovative partnership for us. It not only expands the utility one can derive from being connected to the Safaricom network, but also provides a live example of the inclusiveness we seek in all our operations. Through this service, a very vulnerable segment of our society now has a real chance of being re-united with their loved ones. The service typifies the spirit of problem-solving innovation for societal good that has been the guiding philosophy for our business over the years.”

Video Message about Refugees United

The aim of this initiative is to register 120,000 people on the service by the end of 2011. The program was piloted in Adjumani Refugee settlement in Uganda together with UNHCR. Refugees United have confirmed that in the past 9 months, more than 41,000 have registered in their search for missing family.

Refugees united previously used MTN Uganda as pilot partner. More than 41,000 refugees registered hence the need to broaden cooperation with operators in other countries hosting refugees. There is also an android app you can download through 

David Troensegaard, Co-founder of Refugees United, Craig Hosken, Managing Director of Ericsson Kenya and Vice-President for sub-Saharan Africa and Bob Collymore CEO Safaricom attended the event. UNHCR head also sent a message.

Don’t register in the app unless you are seeking a lost person.