Harare – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched a free, digital humanitarian platform for people affected by migration, armed conflict, and other situations of violence to safely store copies of passports, medical records and other important paperwork.
The application is being piloted by Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) and South African Red Cross Society (SARCS), with technical and financial support from ICRC.
As part of the global Red Cross Movement, the ZRCS continues to offer the Restoration of Family Links programme which seeks to prevent family separation, restore and maintain family contact, reunite families and clarify the fate of missing persons by offering the following services for free Red Cross messages, Wi-Fi services, Tracing of loved ones, Phone call services, Trace the Face, RedSafe Mobile App and Phone charging,” said Mr Elias Hwenga, ZRCS Secretary General.
RedSafe, the pilot platform, which launched in Zimbabwe and South Africa, contains two services. One is a digital vault for storage of personal documents that can be available offline and downloaded when needed. The app complies with ICRC data protection standards.
The second service contains trusted and reliable information about humanitarian assistance available for migrants and refugees. It also gives details on self-protection measures. RedSafe is a one-stop platform for information on legal, health, education, livelihoods, and transport services offered by the ICRC, national Red Cross societies, and other humanitarian partners. The platform aims to reinforce the resilience and coping mechanism of affected people.
“The innovative project helps us to maintain proximity to affected communities and always be accessible to them,” said Marie-Astrid Blondiaux, the Protection Coordinator for the ICRC Regional Delegation in Pretoria. The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the importance of having a trusted digital connection to the people we serve when physical contact is not possible.”
Affected populations are increasingly turning to online sources or social media for help, exposing them to new risks. People in distress need trusted information that is available quickly. They require a safe alternative to commercial online platforms which are not always reliable in terms of content and misuse of data and surveillance.
Partner organisations featured on RedSafe expressed confidence at the impact it would have on migrant communities. “The RedSafe platform will be useful to migrants and refugee seekers in many ways,” said Shelton Chiyangwa, secretary general at the Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network (ZiMSN). “It will help people travelling to South Africa to know what to expect during their stay and where to apply for services. RedSafe is easily accessible because we live in a world of digital technology where many people have access to smart phones.”
RedSafe was designed to complement the ICRC’s existing Restoring Family Links (RFL) programme. RFL supports families separated by armed conflict, other situations of violence, natural disasters, or migration. It helps to re-establish or maintain family contact, trace missing persons, and reunite vulnerable separated people with relatives.
RedSafe is available on Google Play Store, Apple Store, and the ICRC website. Once downloaded, users create a secure account before uploading and safely storing digital copies of documents. All data and personal information is encrypted and nothing is shared with other organisations. Users receive a 6-digit code by SMS or email to be able to access their sensitive data. Meanwhile, information about humanitarian services can be downloaded, saved, and shared with others who might need it.
In Zimbabwe, users can access RedSafe and RFL services at ZRCS kiosks in Bulawayo, Beitbridge, Harare Road port and Zaka where the team is mobile. ZRCS continues to implement the RFL program across the country, with the key areas of operation, in addition to the RedSafe kiosks, being Tongogara Refugee Camp and Plumtree.