New phone app gives hope to DR Congo refugees

AFPMaktoob26 March 2013


Thousands of refugees have been streaming into this refugee camp in Uganda in recent months. Fleeing a civil war in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo that has rumbled on for years. And many of the new arrivals are children -- who have lost contact with their parents. Boys like Pasqual - whose face we've hidden to protect his identity.

SOUNDBITE 1: "Pasqual" (man) Refugee Camp Resident (Swahili, 16 secs):

"I came here because of the war, I saw that they were fighting a lot and I was scared, so I just ran away with a group of boys."

Others, like Javier, didn't have time to get home once fighting erupted in his home town.

SOUNDBITE 2: Javier (man) Refugee Camp Resident(Swahili):

"I was at school when the war started, we started to run in different directions with the other boys but without our parents. We found a safe place, but all our things were stolen by the rebels, I don't know where my parents are."

Reuniting families is a huge task in the camp, which covers 40 square kilometres, and is home to nearly 50,000 people. But a new mobile phone app is making life a lot easier for aid workers here.

RapidFTR, which stands for Family Tracing and Reunification, is an open source, volunteer-driven project. It collects information about families at the registration centre. Parents with missing children register the names and ages of their children, and when the children turn up, they can quickly be identified. It also stores pictures which can be shown to the families.

SOUNDBITE 3: Fatuma Arinatwe (woman) Save the Children (English, 15 secs):

"Before we would just go with a list of names and ask - name, location - ask. But with RapidFTR you have the picture and it is easier to find someone whilst using a picture rather than just the name"

Many of the refugees now face a life of hardship after losing their homes and livelihood in the conflict, but thanks to RapidFTR there’s hope that they won’t lose their families too.


The Rwamanja Refugee Camp, Kamwenge District, Western Uganda. 5th March, 2013. SOURCE: AFPTV/UNICEF

-WS boy walking with belongings

-WS new arrivals at camp

-WS children

-WS families inside

-CU wrist bands

-WS Pasqual and aid worker

SOUNDBITE 1: "Pasqual"

-MS Javier at registration centre

SOUNDBITE 2: "Javier"

-WS people in registration centre

-WS people registration centre

-MS aid worker

-CU mobile phone

-WS aid worker on phone

-CU phone

-WS aid worker taking picture of Pasqual

SOUNDBITE 3: Fatuma Arinatwe

-MS people looking at mobile phone

-WS people looking at mobile phone

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