Digital technologies poster
Photo via World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2022

This event was originally published via the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2022 , the world's largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community. The original post can be found here.

Digital technologies and migration are inextricably linked and feature widely in the SDGs. This session aims to share good practices and make recommendations concerning migrant use of digital tech. Considerable research has highlighted the positive role of digital tech in the lives of migrants, but there is now increasing concern about its darker side that can be disempowering for vulnerable migrants often despite the good intentions of those who design it. Our intervention-research is part of a larger project, Migration for Development and Equality (, focused on “the complex and multi-dimensional relationships between migration and inequality in the context of the Global South”. 

There are many examples of migrant apps designed to help migrants orient themselves, to access labour and government information and services, or to rate employers and recruitment agencies, but our ongoing research (see suggests that such apps are hardly ever used by migrants. Our multi-country, mixed methods research covering the migration corridors of Nepal-Malaysia, Ethiopia-South Africa, China-Ghana and Haiti-Brazil shows that migrants overwhelmingly do not use apps that have been specifically designed for them. Yet migrants use digital technologies extensively in their daily lives and also subject to increasing digital interventions from states, employers and even humanitarian organisations. How can we ensure the safe use of digital technologies by migrants? How can we enhance their benefits to migrants while reducing potential harmful consequences? 

This interactive panel session, which aligns with WSIS Action Lines C3, C4, C5, C7, C8 and C10, will bring together speakers from academia and practice including migrant advocacy organisations, international agencies and civil society groups to address these questions with a view to identifying pathways for the safe use of such technologies to address inequalities faced by migrants and their family members. 

The session will take the form of short 5 minute talks by each panel member, followed by an interactive, moderated discussion with the audience as well as among the panellists. The contribution from the MIDEQ project team at Royal Holloway, University of London will highlight our research in four migration corridors in the Global South on the current use of digital technologies by migrants and potential for digital interventions that can help improve their lives. Panellists from the International Organization for Migration (IOM Brazil) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will present their key digital initiatives involving migrants; the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will showcase their recent digital intervention in the form of Red Safe, a digital humanitarian platform that aims to provide safe and reliable information for those affected by migration, conflict and other humanitarian crisis; Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) will present their experience of advocating for migrants through their digital and on-the-ground complaints resolution mechanisms for migrants. The session will conclude with recommendations from the panel concerning what they think needs to change for the potential harms of digital tech to be mitigated in the context of migration. 

The session will be convened by the MIDEQ team based at Royal Holloway, University of London.


Berta Panés Goday: Berta Panes has been working in the humanitarian field for over 20 years. Initially with the UN, in peacekeeping operations and since 2009 with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Her work has focused on protection of civilian population in conflict and post conflict countries across the world specializing in detention, restoring family links and building resilience amongst communities affected by violence. Since 2019 she has been working at ICRC headquarters in the development of RedSafe, a safe and secure platform offering humanitarian services online. The first pilot was deployed mid 2021 in Southern Africa for migrants seeking services and information in the area.

Christine Hofmann: Christine works as the Team Lead on Skills for Social Inclusion in the ILO’s Skills and Employability Branch in Geneva. She leads research and knowledge products, builds capacity and designs projects on skills and lifelong learning approaches that include persons with disabilities, informal economy workers, migrant workers, forcibly displaced people, LGBTI people and other vulnerable groups. She supports ILO constituents in making skills development and recognition systems more inclusive, and works with the ILO’s network of skills specialists around the world. She spent five years in Cairo as the ILO’s skills specialist for North Africa supporting ILO constituents and projects in the areas of TVET, youth employment, apprenticeship, rural skills training, skills anticipation etc. in 12 countries. Prior to that, among others, she co-authored the ILO’s Skills for green jobs book, and developed a Resource guide on upgrading informal apprenticeship in Africa. Before joining the ILO, Christine worked as a political consultant and coordinated development projects for trade unions in Africa and Asia for a German labour foundation. She holds a degree in International Business and Area Studies.

Guilherme Otero: Guilherme Otero is Project Coordinator at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Head of IOM Sub-Office in São Paulo, Brazil. He holds a B.A in International Relations (University of São Paulo - USP) and a Masters’ Degree in Public Policy (Federal University of ABC - UFABC). He is a former assistant coordinator at the São Paulo City Hall’s Office for Migrant Policies. In 10 years of experience in the field of migration, Guilherme has worked in the areas of education and human rights, migration policy and local governance, humanitarian response, migrant integration, emigration and diaspora engagement, and return migration.

Tatcee Macabuag: Tatcee Lorena Macabuag is an activist, migrants rights advocate and a current programme coordinator of Migrant Forum in Asia. As programme coordinator she is tasked to support and develop program areas of MFA on: 1.) labour migration and recruitment, 2.) research and documentation and 3.) Advocacy and Capacity building. She was part of the core MFA team that developed MFA's online complaints and documentation system, Hamsa. (MFA) is the biggest network in Asia of organizations, civil society groups, trade unions and advocates working on social justice for migrants and their families. MFA has a membership of more than 200 organizations and is represented in 27 countries in Asia.

G Hari Harindranath (Moderator): G Hari Harindranath is a Professor of Information Systems in the School of Management at Royal Holloway, University of London and a member of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, also based at Royal Holloway. Hari has a background in political economy and holds a doctorate in Information Systems from the London School of Economics. His research centres on the social and organisational implications of digital technologies, including ICT4D. Hari is an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Information Technology, Associate Editor of Information & Management, and Senior Editor of Information Technology & People. He is co-founder of the Association for Information Systems-affiliate conference, International Conference on Information Resources Management (Conf-IRM).

Maria Rosa Lorinia: Dr. Maria Rosa Lorini is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the School of Management at Royal Holloway, University of London. Maria Rosa has a background in both civil society organisations and academia. Between 2008 and 2012 she directed a HIV/AIDS project for the Cesvi Fondazione Onlus in South Africa, and before that she also worked for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire on human rights and the rule of law. Immediately prior to joining Royal Holloway, she was most recently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Cape Town, with which she maintains close connections. She is working primarily on digital technologies and migration as part of the team contributing to the MIDEQ project.

Tim Unwin: Tim Unwin is Emeritus Professor of Geography and Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) from 2011-2015, and was Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission from 2009-2014. In 2018-19 he led the co-ordination of 21 UN agencies on behalf of UNESCO and UNICEF to develop a system-wide strategy on the future of education and learning for the UN’s High Level Committee on Programmes and Chief Executives Board. His influential edited book Information and Communication Technologies for Development, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009, and his latest book Reclaiming ICT4D was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. Most of his research and writing currently focuses on the inequalities caused by digital technologies and what needs to be done to ensure that the poorest and most marginalised people can benefit from them.