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"If not for Skype, my wife would have left me by now!" How Skype is improving relationships for UNHCR employees.

“Skype is the main mode of communication to keep in touch with my family,” says Haridass Sriram, a UNHCR field protection officer in Aweil, South Sudan. “Everyday I call them using Skype. I can see my two twins who are now 4 and a half months old and talk to my wife everyday.” He laughs, “If not for Skype, my wife would have left me by now!”

Sriram’s twin girls in Sri Lanka get to check-in with their daddy in Sudan over Skype video everyday.

Sriram’s story is just one of many. Now that Skype is available to 2,750 UNHCR field staff in some of the most remote parts of the world, UNHCR employees are able to keep in close contact with friends and families that they have often been separated from for months at a time.

Since our announcement back in December, a bespoke low-bandwidth version of Skype has now been rolled out to 90 hardship locations, providing employees with both free and low-cost voice and video calls over the Internet even when connection quality is poor. By the end of 2011, the aim if for Skype to be in at least 80% of UNHCR hardship locations and available to more than 3,000 staff members.

To further build on our partnership and commitment to breaking down the barriers to communication we have today launched an ‘interactive penpals’ pilot education program with Australia for UNHCR. Here & There hopes to create a unique partnership between an Australian school and a Ugandan refugee school so that children in both countries can learn about each other’s lives over Skype as part of their geography lessons. To find out how your school can participate you can go to*

In celebration of World Refugee Day, Skype is also supporting UNHCR to increase public awareness of the plight of the world’s 15 million refugees by:

  • Delivering advertising in the Home tab in Skype for Windows. The adverts will appear in the US today and the UK tomorrow.
  • Deliver dynamic in-client messaging to all Skype Windows users in 5 different languages leading throughout Refugee Week.

To find out more about UNHCR go to

* Only available to schools in Australia

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