IOM’s MigApp could be the digital answer for many migrant problems
The international Organisation for Migration launched MigApp in December 2017 with the aim of providing updated news about global incidents and health warnings tailored to the needs of refugees and migrants. Information about money transfer is provided and sending money to other people is possible via this app. Medical appointments can also be made directly through the app. In addition, it helps people who are on the move to cope with language barriers, and they help in keeping travel documents secure. Migrants on the move can communicate with other migrants via stories about themselves.
The app has been deployed in Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Djibouti, South Sudan and Somalia. IOM said it selected the countries because of their high mobile penetration rate. Alex Dougan, IOM’s MigApp Project Manager, explains that the app has been developed “to help migrants make informed decisions throughout their migration journey. It provides secure and reliable information for a safe trip and allows the sharing of its location with relatives .
With MigApp, migrants can: find the most cost-effective ways to send money home; use the Doctor Translate tool to overcome language barriers; find out about travel requirements; access up-to-date information on IOM programmes and services; share their experiences with the ”i am a migrant” story feature; and receive notification alerts on emergencies, healthcare information and other important local information. A second release of the mobile application was launched in June 2018 which accommodates for migrants and refugees that speak French, Spanish and Arabic. The added languages “will allow IOM to significantly widen its scope by providing a reliable source of migration-related information and services to migrants in West Africa, the Americas and the Middle East,” Alex said.
But the app does raise a number of concerns, particularly around internet access and digital literacy. The app is only accessible when migrants are connected to the internet, which isn’t always the case for migrants on the move. It also requires significant levels of digital literacy, a level of social media savviness that excludes a big portion of migrants and refugees that lack those skills. These issues may be addressed in the future, but for those who can access the app, it is proving to be a very useful support tool.