Providing for the world's millions of displaced people and refugees is a huge challenge. The UN Refugee Agency is almost entirely funded by direct, voluntary contributions - mostly from donor countries but also increasingly from individual citizens around the world, the private sector and foundations and trusts.
Our support helps UNHCR respond to humanitarian emergencies when they occur, and to keep providing support long after the media spotlight has faded. We provide vital practical emergency support such as shelter, medicine, blankets, jerry cans and cooking sets. These basic items can mean the difference between life and death for refugees in desperate need.
We also fund projects that would not exist without our Australian donor support. These include projects such as the Safe Mother and Baby programs in Myanmar, Chad and Somalia, and the construction of the first ever secondary school in Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda. Our maternal health, education, infrastructure and income generating programs are just a few examples of the ongoing support we provide to refugees.
How UNHCR works with Skype
The Here & There program is a collaboration between UNHCR and its partner Skype. The program builds on the existing partnership established in 2010 when Skype developed, on a pro bono basis for UNHCR, a bespoke low-bandwidth version of its software for UNHCR humanitarian workers working in locations around the world with little or no access to the internet or telecommunications.
Skype has developed a unique, purpose-built version of Skype for UNHCR that facilitates both free and low-cost voice and video calls over the Internet in these remote hardship locations where there is low connectivity. This provides UNHCR field staff with the opportunity to connect with family and friends across the world in a real-time, cost effective manner. The aim is for Skype to be available to more than 3,000 staff in 80% of UNHCR’s 120 hardship locations.
The technology not only enables communications for humanitarian workers in some of the world’s most remote locations, it has the potential to open up a world of possibilities for the people living in these areas, such as innovative education programs like Here & There.
Skype is available to students in Nakivale refugee settlement through the Community Technology Access (CTA) centre, funded by Australia for UNHCR. This centre provides refugee students with access to computers in a bid to open up education and livelihood opportunities to them. Australia is the first country to develop the Here & There education program.