Thursday, November 5, 2015

Refugee in Serbia? There's an app for that

Recently the Centar za Azila (CZA, Asylum Protection Center) launched a mobile app to answer some of the basic questions that all refugees have upon entering Serbia. Updated every hour, the app provides their rights as asylum-seekers, headline news related to refugees across Europe, locations of hospitals and post offices, common Serbian phrases, weather information, conversion rates, the number of open beds at the five temporary housing sites in Serbia, and the cost of bus tickets to Croatia and Slovenia. Currently it's only available for Android phones but the NGO is developing it for iOS and Windows.

I think this is ingenious on the part of CZA. Besides being hungry, tired, and, of late, freezing cold when entering Serbia, the refugees are disoriented. This app assuages their confusion. It's a strange picture, though, to see people walking for miles and miles in soiled clothes and then pulling out their smart phones to download an app; a confluence of the medieval and the modern.

A video that demonstrates the app's interface:

Although the video shows the app in Serbian, users can select among Arabic, English (translations by yours truly!), Farsi, and French.

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