|Type||Non-profit tech organization|
|Founded||Copenhagen, Denmark 2008|
|Founders||Christopher Mikkelsen & David Mikkelsen|
|Headquarters||Copenhagen, Denmark (HQ). Nairobi, Kenya. New York, USA.|
Everyone has the right to know where their family is. This belief is at the core of Refugees United (REFUNITE), a non-profit tech organization whose mission is to reconnect separated families across the globe. When families are separated, REFUNITE puts them back in touch. Today, there are an estimated 51 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, a staggering percentage of whom have lost contact with family members or friends in their escape from disasters, persecutions, or conflicts.
REFUNITE empowers refugees and displaced people to take the search for family into their own hands, capitalizing on the ever-increasing mobile phone usage across the globe. With little more than access to a low-cost mobile phone – and in selected countries even without access to the Internet – refugees can find their families. REFUNITE now has more than 350,000 profiles on the platform.
How it all started
REFUNITE was founded in 2008 by two Danish brothers, David and Christopher Mikkelsen, after their personal journey trying to reconnect a young, Afghan refugee with his family. In their search, the two brothers discovered that existing family tracing programs lacked cross-border, collaborative technology and how the process of family tracing was tied to often cumbersome procedures and paperwork. REFUNITE set out to change this situation by developing the REFUNITE search tool.
Family Reconnection Services
The family reconnection platform can be accessed through www.refunite.org, where families can search, connect and communicate with their missing loved ones. The platform is free and available in seven languages: Somali, French, Swahili, English, Amharic, Arabic and Sudanese Arabic.
REFUNITE has developed a mobile search tool that allows separated families to search, connect and communicate with their missing loved ones through an entry-level mobile phone. The mobile search tool is currently available in Kenya and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
REFUNITE has opened helplines in several countries, including an international helpline as well as country-specific helplines in Kenya, Turkey, Somalia, Uganda and DRC, and runs a multilingual call centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
Users provide only the amount of information that they themselves find safe to share, which gives them the option of staying anonymous. They can choose to register with personal information that only their family or closest friends would recognize, e.g. birthmarks, favorite foods, or person specific information.
REFUNITE is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a regional office and technology development lab in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition, REFUNITE has a strong presence in refugee prone areas, such as Kampala in Uganda and the refugee camps Dadaab and Kakuma in Kenya.
Due to REFUNITE’s corporate partnerships with large mobile network operators, the organization is able to communicate directly with refugees and send text messages directly to their phones. The operators include:
- Safaricom in Kenya
- Vodacom DRC in Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Telesom in Somaliland
- Avea in Turkey
- Asiacell in Iraq
- Zain Group in Jordan and South Sudan
- Smart Communications in the Philippines
- SAP AG
- Ketchum Inc.
- Google Grants
- Matter Design Studio
- MTN Group
- Delta Partners Group
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Mazarin Design Studio
- Tommy V. Christiansen Law Firm
- Omidyar Network
- [[Fabrikant Mads Clausen Foundation & Bitten and Mads Clausen Foundation / Danfoss A/S
- A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation 
- Obelske Family Foundation 
- Edith and Godtfred Kirk Foundation 
- Lauritzen Foundation 
- Aase & Ejnar Danielsen Foundation
- Oticon Foundation
- Poul Due Jensen Foundation
- Rockwool Foundation
- The Way Forward Aps
- Kirsten and Peter Bang Foundation
- Official Website
- Mobile Website
- Blog Entries by David and Christopher Mikkelsen on Huffington Post
- REFUNITE Blog on Tumblr
- The technology aiming to help refugees by BBC
- Program allows African refugees to reconnect with missing kin via text by CNN
- Africa innovations: 15 ideas helping to transform a continent by The Guardian
- An app for lost loved ones in Uganda by The Guardian
- Africa's first refugee phone network launched in Uganda by Xinhua
- UN and partners use new mobile phone application to enable refugees to trace families by UN News Centre
- NGO 2.0: Using the Web to Reunite Refugees by Der Spiegel
- Refugee Groups Use Social-Networking Technology by Newsweek
- Homesick urban refugees use the internet to integrate and keep in touch by UNHCR
- Site de relacionamento ajuda refugiados a reencontrar parentes pelo mundo by Globo.com
- Kakuma refugees to get health education on mobile phones by Kenya's Daily Nation