The Syrian war has been raging for over 5 years now, and Lebanon — with which it shares a long border — has borne the brunt of over a million Syrian refugees flooding into the country.
Tomorrow TechCrunch will bring together experts from the international aid organization UNICEF, and local NGOs, to discuss how technology can play a role in meeting the needs of both refugees and the NGOs trying to help them.
We will be live-streaming the discussion directly from a refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. You will be able to watch from our Facebook page here. UPDATE: You can watch the live stream here.
The time of the broadcast will be at 11.30am in Lebanon / 10.30am CET / 9.30am in London. Due to safety and security issues, the live stream cannot be put on at a time convenient for North America, but it will be available later on archive.
Appearing on the live steam will be James Cranwell Ward, Innovation Specialist at UNICEF Lebanon; Eva Kaplam, Innovation Specialist with UNICEF in Amman, Jordan; and Layla Khayyat, Protection Coordinator with the Beyond Association. It will be hosted by myself.
The Bekaa Valley is one of the main agricultural areas of Lebanon. The Syrian border is a 20 minute drive away, over nearby hills. It is now home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
The refugee camps are largely informal, resembling small shanty towns, placed randomly on farm land. Some are able to subsist on farm laboring, but most are unable to find work to support themselves.
That means the life of a refugee is extremely difficult. If they have any access to technology at all it’s via a mobile phone, almost always an Android. Because mobile tariffs are punishingly expensive for refugees, WhatsApp is largely the only way they can communicate with friends and family there and back home in Syria.
We’ll be discussing how UNICEF, and the NGOs it works with on the ground, plan to deploy technology solutions; what can actually work and help in real life; and how children and young people are being introduced to technology as part of efforts to meet their basic education needs, as well as help them through the psychological trauma following their terrible experiences of war and forced migration.