Digital transformation with and for refugees

The growth in the use of digital channels and associated technology offers a wide range of opportunities for forcibly displaced people to access information, services, education, and livelihood opportunities, and to otherwise participate in their host societies. The COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated the adoption of digital channels and services worldwide, underlined the importance of considering the role of digital in realizing the goals of the Global Compact on Refugees.

At the same time, alongside the positive benefits that digital can bring, the protection of those forced to flee is increasingly threatened in the online space and by some uses of digital technology. This includes networks of traffickers operating on social media platforms, border controls becoming increasingly digitized in ways that can put access to asylum at risk, and online misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech with real consequences for protection, solutions, and safety.

It has become crucial that organisations working to improve refugee inclusion, protection, and services take full account of the digital space. To address this need, UNHCR has launched a Digital Transformation Strategy 2022-26 which identifies priority outcomes in the areas of digital inclusion, digital protection and digital services.

With the Digital Transformation Group of Friends, we propose to form a group of stakeholders committed to driving forward the above outcomes, both through their own activities but also by supporting other stakeholders to the broader Global Compact on Refugees in incorporating digital opportunities and risks in their planning.