Connectivity for refugees in Greece: the evaluation shows positive results

Publication date: Oct 01, 2021

One year ago, following the fire that ravaged the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece, TSF installed a satellite connection for the refugees hosted in the newly constructed Mavrovouni camp. Between May and June 2021, in collaboration with the local organisation Stand By Me, our teams conducted an evaluation to better understand the impact of this connection. The results show that connectivity for refugees is not an option and that it can have a significant impact on their lives.

92% of the interviewed refugees stated they use an internet connection in the camp. This confirms once more what TSF has been advocating for since its foundation: being connected is an essential need for vulnerable populations and it is an integral part of the emergency humanitarian response.

Refugees need to be connected for different reasons. The results of the evaluation show that instant messaging is the most important use across gender and age groups considered, followed by internet calls and access to information. Refugee camps are particularly challenging environments, where people feel often stuck and abandoned for months, sometimes years, without any possibility to live a normal, fulfilling life. Even just an exchange on instant messaging apps or a short video call with their friends and relatives can significantly improve their psychological well-being and help them keep going despite the hardship they are going through.

When we look at the concrete impact the connection has had on the refugees, the results show the impact is positive on different levels. When asked generically if the connection has had a positive impact on their lives, 97% of the users responded positively. Mental health and having access to up to date information were highlighted as the two main concrete positive impacts. Indeed, 55% of the refugees stated that the connection has offered a psychological improvement and 80% could find news on their home country, information on their rights, asylum procedures and COVID-19 among others.

Since the beginning of its mission in Greece, TSF connected over 11,000 unique devices with a total of 13 TB of data exchanged. Data exchanged and devices that, in reality, correspond to thousands of reassuring messages between separated families, familiar voices helping refugees to better bear a hardly tolerable situation and to make important decisions for their future. This connection gives refugees a sense of being connected to the outside world, of being alive, which is in sharp contrast with the sense of abandonment and isolation every refugee talks about.

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