Since 1999, UNHCR has formalised its relationship and Microsoft employee volunteers now work side-by-side with UNHCR IT staff to deploy and develop technologies to assist the refugee agency in its mission to serve the 17 million persons of concern to UNHCR worldwide.
Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda, Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania… from July through to December, Microsoft employee volunteers are travelling to field locations as part of a UNHCR team to implement new registration software. And it all started with the refugee crisis in Kosovo.
In 1999, when half a million refugees streamed out of Kosovo, in the first week alone, UNHCR’s IT unit received hundreds of calls and emails from private companies suggesting different services. Microsoft was the first and only one to say, “We are there to help, tell us what you need to accomplish,” and then arranged to send 100 volunteers to the region to design and implement a refugee registration system.
Technology has proved instrumental in addressing a number of pressing global refugee issues and together UNHCR and Microsoft are dedicated to deploying and developing the latest technology, tools and skills to provide modern, lasting solutions to the world’s humanitarian challenges.