Ericsson and Avea: Syrian Refugee App



Client: Avea, Ericsson
Product: Syrian Refugee App
Category: Nonprofits & Government
Country: Turkey
Year: 2015


Campaign Summary

During the Syrian Civil War, according to United Nations data, an estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced in Syria, while more than three million refugees had escaped to countries such as Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000) -- Turkey has accepted the most immigrants after Lebanon. According to the latest updates, over one million Syrians came to Turkey as a refugee since the outbreak of the crisis in March 2011. During this escape, it is inevitable that the families are broken up and may not come together again.

Witnessing this humanitarian crisis, Avea and Ericsson Turkey stated they would give common support to Refugees United working for the people who have been apart from their families for a long time.


Objective and Context

The objective was to develop a low-cost campaign to locate and reunite millions of displaced refugees with their families, especially those who have settled in Turkey.


Creative Strategy

Therefore, Avea created a mobile platform to help 1.2 million Syrians communicate with their families dispersed throughout Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. Avea spent $30,000 to adapt its location-based marketing service to reconnect Syrian refugees with their families by sending SMS messages, in English and Arabic, to people based on their locations in refugee camps. Avea has used the Syrian Refugees Reunion platform since 2012.

 Avea’s location-based SMS service uses GSM network capabilities, so when a subscriber makes or receives a call, an SMS is sent to the subscriber.  The SMS directed refugees to a toll-free number through which they could inquire about their families. A free USSD gateway was set up by Avea to redirect all calls to this number to the Refunite Call Center in Kenya, which is a foundation helping people reconnect with their families anonymously and free of charge.

More than 400,000 people have registered with Refunite, making it the biggest family reconnection platform for refugees globally. Since the beginning of September 2014, Avea sent approximately 50,000 SMS messages a week and used proceeds to keep the service running.



Here are this effort's results:

  • Monthly registration of refugees in Turkey has increased 250 percent.
  • Around 280,000 refugees have registered on the service.
  • About 137 families have shared their reconnection stories with Refunite. The total number of reconnections may be higher since the service is anonymous and not every refugee who reconnects wants their case to be reported.


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