Urban refugees make up 80 percent of the 650,000 registered Syrian refugees living in Jordan, and two-thirds of refugees worldwide. Yet their access to aid is far below the level of camp-based refugees.

Our Mission

Urban Refuge leverages technology to address information asymmetries in the urban refugee experience. Using geo-coded locations, the mapping function connects urban refugees with a variety of local assistance opportunities not easily located using traditional addresses. The app also provides links to online resources such as jobs boards, informal and formal education programs, and legal rights information. By linking refugees with existing services and information through an easy-to-use dashboard, we aim to both improve the urban refugee experience and address administrative inefficiencies that arise when service access is largely through word of mouth. The app also provides humanitarian organizations with a centralized database and accessible contact information to help address administrative coordination issues. Urban Refuge will be piloted in Amman, Jordan, with the aim of scaling up the technology to be easily modified and applied in a variety of urban refugee contexts.

Five years into what has been called the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time, Jordan continues to uphold its moral obligations, carrying more than its fair share of the response and providing a global public good on behalf of the region and the international community. To date, around 1.4 million Syrians have sought refuge within Jordan’s borders, growing Jordan’s population by almost 20%, placing untenable strain on the country’s social and economic systems, and institutions, and threatening to undermine decades of developmental progress.
— Imad Najib Fakhoury, Jordan's Minister of Planning & International Cooperation

What the App Achieves

  • First comprehensive database of both international and local organizations.
  • Organized by geo-coding, rather than traditional addresses, for ease of use.
  • Creates a new line of communication between organizations and refugees.
  • Allows us to gather more data to create more efficient, appropriate services.
  • Involves urban refugees in the decision-making process.
  • Empowers refugees with access to more accurate, high-quality information.
  • Enables organizations to conduct impact assessments.
  • Serves as a pilot to be scaled up globally.

We started with a problem: urban refugees have difficulty accessing aid.

Rethinking Aid Policy

We brainstormed ways that we, as students, could help. Rather than pursue the traditional policy class model - where students write policy reports that policymakers rarely read - we focused on digital solutions that we could build directly with NGO clients, Jordanians, and Syrians on the ground.

Implementing Digital Solutions

One of the central difficulties described by urban Syrian refugees is simply knowing how and where to access aid that exists. One of the main challenges described by organizations was accessing refugee beneficiaries. A locator app to put aid on the map can help address these information asymmetries.




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