Mobile for Good in the MENA Region: Disaster Response to Humanitarian Crises
The MENA region has suffered considerable political upheaval over the last decade. Ongoing disputes in countries such as Iraq, Yemen and Syria have led to mass migration as civilians flee conflict zones. In 2015, the region accounted for more than 30 per cent of global displacement, including 2.7 million refugees, 13.9 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and an estimated 374,200 stateless individuals. Natural disasters pose less of a hazard in MENA than in regions such as Asia Pacific, yet where natural disasters do occur, such as cyclones or droughts, they can compound the effects of ongoing crises. Yet against this challenging backdrop, the potential for mobile technology to positively impact people’s lives has never been greater. Access to mobile technology is on the rise, with over 4.9 billion unique subscribers today, a 4.7% increase on last year (GSMAi, 2017). The scale and ubiquity of mobile networks means that mobile operators have a unique and important role to play in connecting people, providing critical access to information and ultimately providing a lifeline in times of disaster and crisis. This session will highlight the ways in which operators in the region are launching services targeted at alleviating some of the challenges faced by displaced and conflict-impacted people.