WRD 2018: Fact #4


Myth: Refugees have smartphones so they must be fine.

Fact: Being a refugee is not a socioeconomic status.

As images of migration across Europe began to dominate the news cycle in 2014-2015, many were quick to point out that a lot of refugees had smartphones, wore good-quality clothing, or seemed to be in good health. Accordingly, anti-immigrant groups claimed that refugees didn’t need help.

There are many factors to consider to debunk this claim. First, being a refugee is not a socioeconomic status. Refugees come from all levels of wealth, including many in the middle- and upper-classes. Refugees are fleeing war and persecution, which affect all members of society. Refugees don’t have to be poor or destitute– but most have lost all their material belongings and legal protections. Second, many anti-immigrant observers falsely assume that cellphone technology is a rare luxury in the countries from which refugees are fleeing. In Syria, for example, there are 75 to 85 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people – placing it right behind Austria and Hong Kong. We are living in an era of digital connectivity, unlike previous migration crises. Third, smartphones are no longer exclusively expensive. Smartphones can cost as little as $100 in some countries. Finally, smartphones are a lifeline for many refugees. They provide vital information on services, but also finding family members, dealing with emergencies, and staying connected to the world while living in isolation.

Thanks to this phenomenon of the “connected refugee,” NaTakallam can provide income opportunities to refugees, who only need a smartphone to work as language tutors and translators for users all around the world.







WRD 2018: Fact #3


Myth: Most refugees live in camps.

Fact: More than 65% of refugees live in urban areas.

The expansive refugee camps around the world, from Kakuma in Kenya to Zaatari in Jordan, have become hallmarks for the global migration and refugee crises that have displaced over 65 million people around the world. Images of sprawling refugee camps are frequently pictured in media outlets.

However, more than 60% of the current refugee population live in urban areas, presenting a new set of challenges to what scholars describe as unprepared humanitarian organizations unequipped to deal with urban challenges. The European Commission estimated that over 90% of Syrian refugees in Turkey lived outside traditional camps. While Ferris and Krause-Vilmar offer encouraging evidence of humanitarian organizations adopting an “urban lens” to revisit their strategies, challenges remain. The authors point out that, when tackling the needs of urban refugees, it can be difficult to distinguish between humanitarian aid and development assistance. Moreover, aid provision in urban areas is problematized by a variety of factors. Brandt and Earle argue that urban refugees are highly mobile, often forced to move due to abusive landlords or the depletion of their savings. If refugees do not register with a UN agency, they risk becoming “invisible” to humanitarian organizations – thus, they would not be eligible for aid nor would they receive information about services. The humanitarian sector is trying to consult local officials and mayors and integrate their feedback into aid programming.

NaTakallam works with displaced persons in both urban areas and refugee camps – which is made possible because of how we leverage technology.




Krause-Vilmar, Jina. “Dawn in the City: Guidance for Achieving Urban Refugee Self-Reliance.” New York: Women’s Refugee Commission, October 2011. https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/resources/document/782-dawn-in-the-city-guidance-for-achieving-self-reliance-for-urban-refugees

Brandt, Jessica and Lucy Earle. “THE GLOBAL COMPACT FOR REFUGEES.” The Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy at Brookings, January 2018, 10. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-global-compact-for-refugees/

WRD 2018 Fact #2

Myth: Refugees are invading Western Europe.

Fact: Over 80% of refugees are in developing countries.

While headlines sometimes make it seem like refugees are invading Europe, the vast majority of refugees remain in developing nations, very often stuck in limbo states, with no legal residency or work status. NaTakallam works predominantly with this category of displaced people. Based on the latest UNHCR report, Lebanon is the country that hosts the highest density of refugees worldwide while Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan and Iran host the highest number of refugees overall, with Uganda and Ethiopia close behind.



WRD 2018 Fact #1


Myth: Refugees are mostly adult males.

Fact: More than half of the world’s refugees are children.

A commonly held belief about refugees is that they are mostly adult men – however, more than half of the world’s refugees are children under the age of 18. Combined with the adult female population, this makes adult men the minority group among the global refugee population. This demographic breakdown holds true for almost every regional crisis. For example, the UNHCR reported that the “vast majority” of Rohingya refugees are women and children, including newborn babies. Additionally, when looking at resettled refugee populations, the IRC reported that the United States predominantly admits refugee families.