SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2017) — The Patterson Foundation provided a $200,000 matching gift to strengthen its international partner NetHope’s mission to install additional Wi-Fi hotspots in refugee camps throughout Greece, Serbia and Slovenia — catalyzing a $400,000 total investment for the expanded effort. The NetHope-led Syrian Refugee Connectivity Alliance has brought Wi-Fi to approximately 500,000 people in 76 camps since October 2015, in close collaboration with the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its Connectivity for Refugees dedicated program.
The Syrian refugee crisis has displaced an estimated 4.8 million people since 2011, becoming one of the largest humanitarian crises in the last half century. The NetHope-led Syrian Refugee Connectivity Alliance works to provide Wi-Fi connectivity and technical support for refugees, aid workers and other camp support staff. Refugees depend on internet access in their settlements to communicate with family and friends, seek asylum, learn new languages, gather news, and stay connected to the outside world. The Patterson Foundation contributed $393,000 total to NetHope’s effort in 2016 through the $200,000 match and a previous gift of $193,000 in catalytic funding.
“The reality that a Wi-Fi connection is as vital as food and shelter spurred action which thankfully could be coordinated with NetHope’s expertise and relationships,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “This match catalyzed needed support to strengthen a perilously weak situation.”
“Among the first questions each of the 1 million refugees made upon landing on the shores of Greece were: Where can I charge my phone? How can I get internet access? I need to call my family,” said Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR representative in Greece. “Mobile and internet connectivity have brought the world tremendous economic and social benefits. The time has come for us to work together to extend these benefits to refugees. In Greece, there is a long-standing, close cooperation between the UNHCR and NetHope. The networks implemented under this partnership serve most of the sites in the country. We are looking forward to continue building upon this solid relationship.”
Since 2010, The Patterson Foundation has provided more than $1.3 million to strengthen NetHope’s operations around the world. The funds have gone toward response efforts for disasters like the Ebola crisis, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the Nepalese earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
NetHope, a global collaboration of 50 nonprofits and the technology industry, works to improve the human condition in humanitarian, development and conservation efforts through the application of technology. Through its Syrian Refugee Connectivity Alliance, NetHope has sent teams of technology experts to camps in Greece, Serbia and Slovenia to install new Wi-Fi systems while upgrading existing networks. NetHope has established a strong partnership with UNHCR to bring available, affordable and usable connectivity to people of concern across Europe. The Syrian Refugee Connectivity Alliance also receives financial support from contributors like Cisco, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
“At NetHope, our mission and our mandate is to find innovative ways for technology to ease the suffering of people in dire circumstances,” said Lauren Woodman, NetHope CEO. “Without critical funding from key partners like The Patterson Foundation, our efforts to establish needed connectivity for refugees would not have been nearly as broad-based, as efficient, or as successful. We are grateful for their enduring support.”
Visit www.nethope.org to learn more about NetHope. Visit www.unhcr.org/connectivity-for-refugees.html to learn more about UNHCR’s global program on connectivity for refugees. For more information on The Patterson Foundation, visit www.thepattersonfoundation.org.
About The Patterson Foundation
The Patterson Foundation strengthens the efforts of people, organizations and communities. The Foundation focuses on issues that address common aspirations and foster wide participation, along with ways organizations learn and share as they evolve. For more information, please visit www.thepattersonfoundation.org and connect with @ThePattersonFdn on Twitter.