Confronting Challenges Faced by Displaced Populations
It is estimated that 44,000 people are forced each day to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. In December 2017, the CHR held a symposium, Protecting the Rights of Individuals Fleeing Conflict: The Role of Scientists, Engineers, and Health Professionals, to explore the various challenges faced by displaced individuals and the ways in which the scientific, engineering, and medical communities are working to help address these challenges. Many of the participants highlighted innovative ways that science and technology are being used in this context. For example:
- The Refugee ACTion Hub at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology leverages online platforms, together with in-person classroom/lab experiences, to offer courses in computer and data sciences to displaced persons.
- Mobile phone applications, developed by organizations such as PeaceGeeks, the International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps, assist displaced individuals in identifying and accessing needed services in their new environments.
- The UN's Global Pulse initiative harnesses big data for development and humanitarian action through the identification of xenophobic speech targeted at refugees in social media across Europe and the use of ship location data to train an artificial intelligence algorithm to recognize refugee rescue events in the Mediterranean.