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FoundersChristopher Mikkelsen & David Mikkelsen
TypeREFUNITE (Refugees United) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to provide refugee families that have lost contact with each other during escape from conflict with an anonymous platform to reconnect.

REFUNITE (Refugees United) is a non-profit organization established by two Danish brothers, David and Christopher Mikkelsen with the stated mission to "help refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) search for their missing loved ones." It focuses on online and mobile solutions to help families reconnect. Families can search for their missing loved ones by simply registering onto REFUNITE's family tracing platform. The REFUNITE family reconnection platform allows users to register, search for and message their missing loved ones that have also signed up on the platform.

REFUNITE works through partnerships with like-minded individuals, organizations, corporations, and humanitarian agencies. The headquarters are located in Copenhagen, Denmark with the main technology development lab and operations being based out of Kampala, Uganda.


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 the process of family tracing was also often tied to cumbersome procedures and paperwork.

This is what prompted David and Christopher to develop an global, centralized and free platform that would allow refugees and other Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to search and reconnect with their missing family and loved ones. REFUNITE empowers refugees and separated families to search, connect and communicate with family and friends they have lost along the way. The organization provides the family reconnection service, but puts it in the hands of its users to conduct the actual search, thus democratizing access to family tracing.

Out of the 68 million[1] forcibly displaced people worldwide, many do not have access to Internet and have very basic and simple mobile phones. REFUNITE focuses on making their service available to as many users as possible and through various touch points, from the very low-end, basic technology to the more sophisticated one.

Together with Ericsson, REFUNITE has partnered with a global coalition of mobile network operators. Through these partnerships, the organization is able to communicate directly with millions of forcibly displaced people through SMS and make access to the platform free of charge. So far, over 1 million people registered on the REFUNITE platform and keep searching for their missing loved ones every day.

Thousands of new users are coming on to the REFUNITE platform every week from all over the world. Part of the organization's effort to make this service available to all is making sure that it is available in as many languages as possible. REFUNITE is constantly adding new languages to the platform, with its web service currently being available in twelve languages, including English, Swahili, Somali, Arabic, French, Congolese Swahili, Hindi, Urdu, Pashto, Kurdish, Dari, and Tagalog.

REFUNITE's Technology[edit]

REFUNITE Outreach Volunteer helping a beneficiary register via mobile phone


The family reconnection platform can be accessed through the official website. The search tool is available in twelve languages, including English, Swahili, Somali, Arabic, French, Congolese Swahili, Hindi, Urdu, Pashto, Kurdish, Dari, and Tagalog. The website can be accessed by anyone with Internet connection.

Data collection and Privacy[edit]

Users provide only the information they feel comfortable and safe enough to share, which gives them the option of staying anonymous. While providing a phone number is necessary to sign up, this number is kept hidden and only used for signing in via our web service or to receive messages straight to your phone. While REFUNITE encourages users to provide as much information as possible, they understand that sharing certain information causes a safety concern for some. Therefore, users choose what public information they want to share, giving them the option to, for example, have their profile show personal information that only their family or closest friends would recognize, e.g. birthmarks, favorite foods, or other person-specific information.

Outreach Volunteers[edit]

REFUNITE's Outreach Volunteers help beneficiaries register, search, and even share their reconnection story with the organization.

REFUNITE works with outreach volunteers in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. The organization has teamed up with UNHCR as well as other aid organizations operating in camps in order to train local refugees on REFUNITE’s technology, so these refugees can help others sign up. Many of the outreach volunteers, who are refugees themselves, are still looking for their own families as well, and are helping others while waiting to be reconnected. They walk around the camps promoting REFUNITE’s service and help anyone interested to register and search. They are some of the most important people to REFUNITE, as they are instrumental in advocating the service and help foster trust between the organization and its beneficiaries in the camps.


  • 2017 Social Entrepreneurs of The Year

World Economic Forum, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship[2]

  • 2016 25 Most Daring

Condé Nast, Vanity Fair and WIRED [3]

  • 2013 Prix Ars Electronica

Award of Distinction in the category Digital Communities[4]

  • 2013 Lovie Award

Lost and Found - The Story of Refugees United[5]

  • 2012 Webby Award Winner

Lost and Found - The Story of Refugees United[6]

  • 2011 PopTech: Social Innovation Fellows[7]
  • 2008 Mobile Pioneers Award


Corporate partners[edit]

REFUNITE’s corporate partners include, among others, mobile network operators that enable the organization to communicate directly with refugees and send text messages to their phones. REFUNITE’s partners are:

Read about REFUNITE's global partnerships here:

Humanitarian Partners[edit]

REFUNITE has partnered with a number of humanitarian organizations including the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).


REFUNITE's main funders include the H&M Foundation, the Swedish Postkod Foundation and the IKEA Foundation. They have also been funded by Omidyar Network, Maersk Foundation, Danfoss Foundation, LEGO Foundation, SAP and many others.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Schwab, Hilde (2017-03-29). "Meet the Social Entrepreneurs of the year 2017". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Winners Prix Ars Electronica 2013". Ars Electronica Blog. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Refugees United Receives a Lovie Award". Refunite Blog. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Lost and Found – The story of Refugees United". Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "In-kind donations". Retrieved 2 December 2014.

External links[edit]