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And then I was a refugee: new app launched

Red Cross has launched a new app entitled 'And then I was a refugee'.

Thursday November 29, 2012

Australian Red Cross humanitarian diplomacy has gone high-tech, with an app which throws everyday Australians face-to-face with some of the life-and-death choices refugees are forced to make.

In the 'And then I was a refugeeā€¦' app, users select a character who is forced to run for their life when their village is attacked by rebels. Along the way they have to make decisions such as whether to join the rebels to stay alive, whether to steal water from a village, or if they should accept help from a people smuggler.

'This interactive narrative, starting in Somalia and travelling through Sudan, Libya, Kenya and Malta, shows real scenarios with very real consequences. There aren't any easy answers nor are there any right ones,' said Robert Tickner, CEO of Australian Red Cross.

For Android devices the app is available at Google Play. For Apple devices the app is available at the iTunes Store. The app is free and is recommended for people aged nine and over.

'We wanted to create an authentic journey, to give some insight into the difficulties and dangers refugees face - like hunger, dehydration, violence, terror, and the endless queues. It's about building empathy and counteracting some of the intolerance and discrimination out there. It is also about challenging the myth that people somehow choose to become refugees,' he said.

Each year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes for fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, social background or their political opinions. UNHCR figures show that at the end of 2010 there were some 15.4 million refugees worldwide, and some 837,500 asylum seekers awaiting an outcome on their application for refugee status. According to the UNHCR, fewer than 1% of the world's refugees may be resettled in any given year.

'This app aims to demystify the refugee experience and show the reality of the crisis millions of people find themselves in today,' said Mr Tickner. 'App users are faced with some pretty confronting choices as they try to find safety for themselves and their families. All of the scenarios are based on the stories of refugees we have worked with, as well as our extensive research.'

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