Uprooted and Unplugged: The Disconnects of Syrians in Jordan

No conversation about Syrian refugees could ignore the unprecedented access to and use of technology in the humanitarian response. Yet in a crisis defined by themes of information and communication, disconnection remains a striking challenge. This project takes a closer look at how trust and fear shape interaction—or lack thereof—between Syrians, international organizations, and the host community in Jordan.

Syrians in Jordan face a broad array of barriers to their ability to preserve their social and legal ties to Syria, leading to a diverse array of concerns about present instability and precarious futures. Hundreds of thousands are missing documents that prove some or many aspects of their legal identity. International agencies are scrambling to reach refugees who have not registered with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, while refugees worry that their inability to acquire identity documents will prevent them from returning to Syria once the war ends. Without proof of legal status or proper birth and marriage registration documents, the future of thousands rests on increasingly precarious ground. In the camps, communication with the outside world is limited by lack of internet access and 3G. Desperate to remain informed about news at home and family members, lack of connectivity exacts a heavy emotional toll.

Rachel Townzen examines the trade-offs between identifying and being identified as a Syrian refugee in Jordan, questioning what security means in a networked, tech-driven world.

Trusting Tech Initiatives Isn’t Easy for Most Syrians

In light of the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York, Rachel Townzen explores what it means for Syrians and Syrian refugees to stay safe in a tech-driven world where new technologies and data-collection initiatives are on the rise.