How technology Empowers Refugees

Project Integration

Session 387

09:00–10:45, Monday, 12 June 2017 Room M2, ITU Montbrillant Thematic Workshop

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The social potential of innovation and technology

This session will encourage a discussion around the ways in which technology can be leveraged to aid and empower the refugee community. When one considers the increasing access of refugees to smart technology and the more general digitalisation of our world, the potential impact of technology in this area is vast and varied and should be utilised to its fullest capacity. As Samantha Power has stated, “we are facing the largest refugee crisis since World War Two; it is a 21st century crisis and we need a 21st century solution”. Increasingly the IT sector and tech entrepreneurs are utilising technology to help the refugee community in a movement coined as “Digital Humanitarianism”. The initiatives include apps that help asylum seekers navigate local services like healthcare and legal procedures, help refugees find employment and provide access to community based housing and services through digital platforms.

An example of the digital humanitarian phenomenon is Project Integration, a Geneva-based initiative that aims to take advantage of the growing deficit of IT talent and untapped potential of the refugee community by offering intensive coding courses to asylum seekers. As tech intensive skills becoming increasingly demanded, the project is working towards professionally integrating them into their host societies by making its students highly employable. In light of the accessible educational resources online and the cross-border and transferable nature of IT skills, this skillset is one that is ideally suited to a mobile migrant community. In addition, the project aims to target women refugees now in order to work towards closing the gender gap in the IT sector. Similar projects exist in Europe and have experienced a wide range of success and support.




  • Rowan Farrell, Co-Founder, Refugee Info Bus
  • Priya Burci, Co-Founder of Project Integration
  • Chris Earney, Deputy, Innovation at the UN Refugee Agency
  • Gisella Lomax, Social Media Manager, UNHCR 

Session's link to WSIS Action Lines

  • AL C3 logo C3. Access to information and knowledge
  • AL C7 e-Hea logo C7. ICT Applications: E-health
  • AL C7 e-Emp logo C7. ICT Applications: E-employment

Session's link to Sustainable Development Process

  • Goal 4: Quality education logo Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5: Gender equality logo Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure logo Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation


Link to this session