Social Media

An Online Initiative Helps Asylum Seekers Call Home

An online campaign is asking for phone credits so that refugees can contact loved ones they're separated from by conflict

Social Media
Migrant speaks on his phone near the Greek village of Idomeni REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis — REUTERS
May 17, 2016 at 1:39 PM ET

Volunteers from all over the world are gathering in a Facebook group to donate phone credit for displaced asylum seekers, who need the credits to stay in touch with their families they’ve been forced to leave behind.

The online campaign, called “Phone credit for refugees and displaced people,” started on February across a series of online platform including Gofundme, Paypal and in a Facebook group—which has already gained more than nine thousand members. The group allows displaced asylum seekers in need to ask for credit directly or via volunteers working in asylum seekers’ camps. Group members can then respond with an offer to buy it for them by charging the credit to their phone number.

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“My name is Khalil (alias name) from Afghanistan. I didn’t speak with my family for 3 months can you help me please” posted one of the members of the group echoing others who can not contact their families back home because they can’t afford the call.

The administrators of the group also frequently loop back, updating the group’s members with the outcome of their donations. “Daoud (alias name) uses his credit to keep up with what is happening in Aleppo and make sure his loved ones are safe,” one admin wrote at the end of April.

Although it is unclear how much money was raised by the campaign since it first launched, one of the admins reported on April 14 that the group managed to raise more than 16,000 pounds (roughly $23,000 USD) by that date.

The largest group of refugees on the board come from Syria, driven out by that country’s years-long bloody civil war. Significant numbers also come from Sudan and Afghanistan, along with other countries.