Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

148 V I EWPO I NT Millions of people are being displaced by war, famine, climate change and more, but humanitarian technology can help governments to proactively improve the lives of refugees and migrants LOU I S A BAR K E R : I DC Empowering refugees through technology For the first time on record, the number of forcibly displaced people has surpassed 100 million. This means that one in every 78 people has been forced to flee their homes, largely due to conflict, hunger, unemployment and climate change. The situation in Ukraine is, of course, front of mind for many, with more than 7.7 million Ukrainian refugees recorded across Europe in 2022. Managing and supporting displaced populations will increasingly be a critical part of governments’ realities and responsibilities in the coming years. However, too often they take an ad hoc approach in the face of crises. Instead, they need to take a proactive approach to help manage this perennial challenge and improve the lives of refugees. In the words of Rafal Trzaskowski, the mayor of Poland’s capital Warsaw: “It is time we phased out improvisation and instead created a strategy for coping and appropriate systems for helping refugees.” In the short term, refugees need access to food, medical assistance, shelter, a means of communicating with loved ones and information on critical next steps. These shortterm needs then morph into a longer-term reality where refugees need access to housing, social welfare, schools and employment opportunities. Across the European Union, Ukrainian refugees have been granted temporary residency and access to essential public services. This is a crucial safety net, but it HumTech can be used to help refugees settle into their host communities by giving them access to an online education, digital banking and much more