First thing a refugee asks at a camp is not water or food, but Wi-Fi password: Turkcell CEO

According to Kaan Terzioğlu, CEO of Turkey’s leading mobile phone operator Turkcell, connectivity is a key concern for refugees. The first thing a refugee wants at a camp is the Wi-Fi password in an effort to connect with the people they have left behind, said Terzioğlu.

Speaking at the “Reconnecting Refugees” session at the World Economic Forum annual meetings in Davos on Jan. 24, the CEO said one of the most effective tools to resolve the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, namely the refugee crisis, was the opportunities offered by the digital world.

“The first thing a refugee asks for upon arrival at a camp is not water or food, but the Wi-Fi password,” he said.

A smartphone is not a luxury, but a basic humanitarian need, Terzioğlu noted, as it was often the only thing to connect refugees with the people they left behind.

“In the upcoming period, we need to use what the digital technologies have offered in an effort to find effective solutions to the refugee crisis,” he noted.

He also gave information about a Turkcell app, “Hello Hope,” which was specially designed to break the communication barrier more than 3 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey face.

According to data from the company, since its launch in 2016, the “Hello Hope” app has reached more than 700,000 users, with 450 million Turkish-language card views and more than 11 million uses of the Turkish-Arabic speech translation feature to date, demonstrating the need for and the potential of such solutions.

Turkcell offers services to nearly 1.7 million Syrians. The company said its cards, which offer key information on educational and health areas, have been used 4.6 million times so far.