When battery life saves human life

For forced migrants, smartphones are key to their survival

Few would equate human life with battery life, but for many migrants escaping war or famine, a single percentage point of battery can mean getting the right information at the right time – or not surviving at all.

Smartphones today have become an integral part of a forced migrant’s journey. From navigating mountains in Central Asia using Google Maps to staying connected with family back home via WhatsApp, smartphones have transformed the migrant experience – though not always for the better.

No electron spared

In Eastern Europe, many migrants pushed back from Hungary stay along the border on the Serbian side in abandoned buildings. Volunteers visit these sites to bring supplies, including repurposed car batteries that migrants use to charge their phones.