Digital safety in the world’s most dangerous war zone

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COMMENTARY

by Deirdre Collings & Robert Muggah

iPolitics
April 27, 2018

In war-torn Syria, the contents of one’s phone mean the difference between life and death. “My phone is my lifeline,” Umm Hassan told us, one of the more than 150,000 Syrian citizens fleeing the destruction of Eastern Ghouta last month, as regime forces moved in. “But, please help me. How do I delete everything on it?”

For refugees and migrants everywhere, mobile phones are their most valued possession, vital for staying connected to family members, support networks, and life-saving information. According to the United Nation’s refugee agency, UNHCR, many people forced to flee choose connectivity over food. Refugees, on average, spend a third or more of their income on mobile credit.

In Syria, mobile connectivity is critical, not just for the displaced, but for everyone affected by war, including local organizations delivering emergency relief to desperate communities. Humanitarian organizations like the White Helmets similarly depend on phones to reach the most vulnerable, while human rights activists rely on connectivity to document war crimes and make their voices heard....

Image credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla

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