This study provides new evidence of the critical role internet connectivity and mobile devices play in the lives and wellbeing of this population. Findings are based on a survey of 135 adults amongst the 750 residents at Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece.
The report is the result of 2017 field research by Data & Society, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s (HHI) Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, and Centre for Innovation at Leiden University.
- Women are less likely to own a mobile phone than men – 94% of men own a phone, compared to 67% of women. Mobile phone access is “important” to over 80% of refugees in this study.
- Approximately 2 of every 5 refugees participating in this study may be classified as moderately to severely depressed according to the validated depression scale used in the survey. Each additional day an individual used a phone in the past week was associated with a reduction in their probability of being depressed.
- Eighty-six percent (86%) said they would not be concerned about giving their personal information to a UN official. Yet for Facebook, 30% expressed concern about giving the social media site their personal information, 52% were unconcerned, and 15% were unsure. Thirty-three percent (33%) said they have been asked to provide information about themselves that they would rather not have given.
- Ninety-four percent (94%) use WhatsApp, 78% use Facebook, about 38% use Google Translate and Google Maps, and 9% use Skype.
- Privacy, trust, and information security are important factors for refugees. Many respondents had a sense of the people and platforms they would or would not trust with their sensitive information.
- Refugees have nuanced views on privacy and information sensitivity. Response organizations must protect the privacy rights of refugees and understand that different technologies receive different degrees of trust.
- The study demonstrates the need for further research and assessment of social context for any technology deployed for refugees.
- In order to be able to deploy technological intervention effectively and responsibly, say the authors, social factors specific to refugee populations need to be understood.
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