“For refugees and displaced youth who are separated from their peer groups, internet connectivity is an important social bridge that helps them to overcome their sense of isolation and to feel connected to the outside world. Equally important is the opportunity it provides for raising their awareness on educational and health aspects and economic opportunities,” said Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA’s Representative in Iraq.
“Internet is an important means of empowerment for displaced youth as it allows them to increase their awareness on reproductive health needs and prevention of sexual and gender based violence.”
A second site for connectivity services, an Internet café, was established earlier this month by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Domiz camp. A Syrian refugee living in the camp has been employed as an administrator for the Internet café and additional support personnel are trained onsite as needed.
“Communication is the link to survival,” said Enrica Porcari, Chair of the ETC and WFP Chief Information Officer and Director of IT. “The onus is on the entire response community – humanitarians, governments, private companies – to strengthen the capacity of affected people to respond, recover and redevelop. With our network of members, the ETC is committed to ensuring those at the heart of the response have access to communications.”
The ETC Connectivity for Communities project in Iraq is being implemented by WFP with support from UNFPA, UNHCR as well as WFP’s Fast IT and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team (FITTEST) and Ericsson Response. WFP has plans to expand connectivity so that refugees can access the internet no matter where they are in Domiz camp. The project’s long-term ambition is to provide internet connectivity to camps in Iraq and other countries around the world.