Requiem for Aleppo – a roaring success

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Picture credit: @mikebutcher
London, Wednesday 26th April.

Sunday evening, saw the world premiere of David Cazalet’s composition Requiem for Aleppo, at Sadler’s Wells in central London. The contemporary dance work brought together twelve dancers from around the world, to express their solidarity with the people of Aleppo and Syria through the medium of dance.

The Techfugees team were in attendance, along with the other charity partner, Syria Relief, packed into Sadler’s Wells in central London with 1,500 attendees. The event was also being streamed live around the globe, to fourteen of our local chapters.

If you missed the event, you can watch a replay on our YouTube channel: 


“Techfugees was proud to partner with Syria Relief and Requiem for Aleppo to help deliver the premiere at Sadler’s Wells. It is always very satisfying to see the arts- in this case, dance and music- bridging political divides to unite us under a common purpose. The performance itself was breathtaking, with David Cazalet’s rousing score, beautiful set design, and, of course, powerful choreography from Jason Mabana. This is just the first step: we hope that Requiem for Aleppo will be able to tour, and continue to raise money to support educational projects in Syria.” – Tom Hayton, Creative Director, Techfugees


‘’Perhaps simple technological tweaks can dissolve this distance and give new meaning to the well-intentioned phrase ‘expression of solidarity’? Techfugees, a volunteer charity of technology experts, punctured the proscenium arch through a live-stream broadcast of Requiem for Aleppo.’’ – The Independent

“It was a humbling to have displaced Syrians help us organise the screenings across the world and share accounts with us. I was also moved by the number of citizens from Aleppo who attended the event, and speaking to them afterwards reinforced the amount of work that is left to do. The evening ended on a happy note, with a touching speech from our friend, Ahmad Al-Rashid, who spoke of rebuilding Aleppo as a place of love, history and coexistence.” – Josephine Goube, CEO, Techfugees

“Migration Hub Network was proud to partner with Techfugees to host a screening in Berlin. The event brought together around 40 members of our community and public, including locals, internationals and Syrians living in Berlin, to watch the performance and gather together to express solidarity for the people of Syria. The audience was visibly moved from the performance and our discussions touched on how powerful, beautiful but also hopeful the performance was. Instead of stigmatising Aleppo merely as a conflict zone, it has to be appreciated for its cultural wealth and beauty. Before the screening, we connected via an audio-immersive Shared Studios Portal to a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq with the purpose to enable personal encounters and highlight the human faces of conflicts. We interacted and discussed with the residents about Requiem for Aleppo and the importance to build connections and stand together in solidarity for the victims of conflict. We also used the occasion to support the work of REFUEAT, a food bike working with refugees, giving the participants the opportunity to also enjoy delicious Arabic street food.” – Laura Kangas

“I am so humbled to be part of the community screening the Requiem from Aleppo this week. Creating a common ground around art send such a strong message. The 12 dancers were sad, powerful and beautiful, it woke feelings of compassion amongst the audience Oslo. It is initiatives like this that truly will drive us toward more peace and justice in this world”. – Ida Faldbakken, who organised Oslo screening.

Screenings were also shown across:

  • Beirut
  • Bonn
  • Budapest
  • Dublin
  • Frameries
  • Istanbul
  • London
  • New York
  • Paris

Techfugees is a social enterprise mobilising the international tech community to respond to the refugee situation. Techfugees organises conferences, workshops and hackathons around the world in an effort to supply a pool of tech solutions and tech talent to NGOs working with refugees, and refugees themselves.

Techfugees Kenya – Blockchain & Refugee Emergency Response: Can Blockchain technology help save the lives of refugees?

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Date: 22nd of February 2017 
Time:  4:30pm – 7:00pm, East Africa Time.
Location: iLab Nairobi, Strath­more University, 4th Floor Stu­dent Centre Build­ing, Keri Road, Madaraka Estate, Nairobi, Kenya 
Capacity is limited. Registration will be confirmed shortly and via email.

Join us for the launch of Techfugees chapter in Kenya!

Blockchain has the potential transform humanitarian responses for refugees and empower refugees themselves to create recognised identities and access essential services that may otherwise be off-limits. This event brings together startups, innovators and humanitarians to explore multiple Blockchain initiatives that have the potential to improve the lives of refugees in East Africa and beyond. Join us for the first Techfugees event in East Africa and help us unlock the power of Blockchain!

The problem

Many refugees, and people in refugee-like situations, across Africa are unable to prove their identity or access essential services. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 80% of the total adult population are unbanked and do not have the necessary documentation to open a bank account, and without necessary documentation, many refugees are unable to access healthcare, seek legal protection, or enrol their children in schools. In response, private enterprises and humanitarian organisations have begun to look into Blockchain technology as a way to independently authenticate and validate exchanges of information, from personal identification to money transfers.
How can Blockchain help?

Blockchain is a cloud-based public ledger that automatically records all transactions and stores them securely for everyone to see. This enables independent entities to rely on the same, secured and auditable source of information without the need of third-party oversight.
Mapping solutions

Blockchain is increasingly being used in refugee emergency response. This event gathers leading researchers in the Blockchain space, Blockchain-based startups, and humanitarian players that have begun implementing Blockchain-based initiatives to share insights from the projects they’re currently working on.
The event will discuss questions like:

  • How can Blockchain technology alleviate challenges faced by refugees by providing identification and financial mobility?
  • Can Blockchain unlock essential services to refugees without government support?
  • Which humanitarian organizations have started to use Blockchain technology in Africa and how?
  • When it comes to refugee response and Blockchain: What are the lessons learned from Africa – and outside of Africa?


At this event, you will be hearing from:

Joséphine Goube, CEO of Techfugees (via Skype)
Benjamin Hounsell and Ida Jeng, Co-chairs of Techfugees Kenya
Komminist Weldemariam, Research Scientist & Manager at IBM Research Africa
Diana Klein, Head of IT, The World Food Programme in Kenya
Joseph Thompson, CEO, Aid:Tech (via Skype)
David Yen, Regional Business Development Manager, BitPesa, East Africa
More speakers to be announced

Sponsored by REFUNITE & Samuel Hall

Register by sending an email to Giulia Balestra: Please include your full name and organization.

Belgrade Techfugees hackathon: How Do You Hack A Disaster?

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Techfugees Belgrade
Arduino wonders at Techfugees Belgrade Hackathon -the NFC device being built from scratch
First, you open the door.

When organising Techfugees Belgrade hackathon in April, we were in a specific position: Belgrade is on the Balkan route, parks were flooded with refugees (thousands were passing through, daily) and the tech community wanted to offer some help. We kept one thing in front of our eyes at all times: The crisis is understood only by the ones involved in it.

It is kind of comfortable looking at it from the outside- one can easily fall into a trap of making amazing things that no one on the crisis field needs. That is why we made sure to talk to refugees directly and to the volunteers that worked on the spot – to learn what are the real problems of the people affected by the biggest human exodus since the WW2.

There was a true disaster at our doorstep. So we invited refugees in – the coworking Startit center space, for the next 48 hours became the place of human understanding and technology-inspired change.


Next, you listen: Long routes, vulnerability, lack of information and Wi-Fi access

These people were not travelling, they were running away across continents and seas with whomever they could bring along and with whatever they could carry.

The lack of vehicles, food or water was rarely mentioned (although it was obviously there) however, the lack of information, organizing volunteers at the times of need, issues with roaming, information coming in too late, impossibility to get to information or to call for help in between the shelters were always mentioned.

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 14.03.43
Hackathon most precious guests – describing the exodus, the troubles and the needs of refugees from their own experience

So the high-tech peeps needed to think in terms of no tech! No Wi-Fi, border crossings, new languages, old and new sim cards, violence happening along the route, rain, wind, exhaustion… We needed to go low-tech or, rather real-tech, and to connect the solutions to all the real aspects: suffering while constantly being on the go. With the help of amazing people from InfoPark and Refugee Aid Miskalište we worked with refugees directly.

One team addressed a tough question – how can technology ease the problem of lack of information and communication on the go?

Then you ask: How to have mobile information available everywhere and at all times?

That sounds almost impossible. However, there were things hiding in plain sight.

Low-tech solution- USSD protocol works on the field, without Internet, and it is easily accessible from any kind of phone.  So why not use this almost forgotten technology to solve the current problems?

This is how InfoHelp was born –  we created a fully offline, USSD communication project for refugees that works on any kind of a mobile phone- providing info without the need for the internet.  

And then you build: The country’s telecom is an essential partner

Telekom Srbija, the largest national telecom operator has agreed to join us in this effort and provide the free USSD access and the dedicated number *303#, also for free.

It works like this: *303# is a number a refugee can dial, and specific information (location, nearest Wi-Fi, shelter, food, type of food) are available always and offline, and on any type of phone everywhere in Serbia. Through this number, another important service can be made available: refugees can report violence on the spot – when it happens. This service will be made available in cooperation with NGOs and international organisations specialising in the field of violence prevention.

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 14.04.16
Techfugees Belgrade teams at work
Where we are now and our next steps

InfoHelp team is currently in the process of signing the contract with Telekom Serbia to make InfoHelp happen in Serbia. We would love to get in touch with Greek telco and we are also in talks with Pakistan, Italy and few other countries. Our aim is to help countries where the influx of refugees is large, and the smart ways of sharing information is much needed.

Join our efforts, contact us with ideas and/or contacts on

Also, have a look at other solutions developed during the Techfugees Belgrade hackathon.

The event would have never happened without the help from our people at InfoPark, Miksalište Refugee Aid, Startit Center, WAHA and 30 Hills.

By Katarina Popović, InfoHelp founder