Advancing Digital Inclusion for Refugees and Vulnerable Groups
Skopje, North Macedonia
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) North Macedonia and the local non-profit Initiative Doniraj Kompjuter have successfully implemented a project aimed at advancing digital inclusion for refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons in the country. The project, which was supported by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg through the UNHCR Digital Inclusion Fund of the Innovation Service, aimed to provide equal and meaningful access to digital technologies for the most vulnerable populations in North Macedonia.
The project, named “Skills and Computers for All – REFurbish,”, under the supervision of Doniraj Kompjuter, brought together IT students from universities such as, Ss. Cyril and Methodius from Skopje, Goce Delchev from Shtip, and University American College Skopje, to work in pairs with the forcibly displaced and stateless persons in North Macedonia to repair and reassemble used computers. The students provided technical skills and knowledge, while the refugees and asylum seekers brought their own unique experiences and perspectives to the project.
The UN Agencies in the country donated the equipment to be refurbished under this project. The refurbished computers were then donated to the refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons, as well as to other vulnerable individuals and schools in North Macedonia. This not only provided access to technology for those in need, but also helped to reduce electronic waste and provided employment skills to both the refugees and the local youth.
Students and refugees working together running tests on newly installed computer parts. ©UNHCR/Ljubinka Brashnarska
"Working on this project was an incredibly enriching experience," said one of the IT students who participated in the project. "I had the opportunity to work with refugees and learn from their experiences, and, at the same time, I was able to share my technical skills and knowledge. The project was a great way for me to give back to the community and make a positive impact."
Participants in the mentorship programme after a session held at Doniraj Kompjuter. ©UNHCR/Nikola Spasenoski
Similarly, a refugee who participated in the project shared, "Being part of this project was life-changing for me. Before this, I didn't have access to a computer, and I felt like I was being left behind in today's digital world. But now, I have the tools I need to connect with my loved ones, learn new skills, and contribute to my community."
The project was implemented in cooperation with Doniraj Kompjuter and was mentored by trained professionals with extensive experience in the field of refurbishing, reassembling, and setting up computers. The mentoring sessions were held 4 times a week, with a total of 32 sessions. At the end of the project, a total of 20 participants, including refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons, as well as IT students, had the opportunity to take part in the program.
Participants in the mentorship programme together with Doniraj Kompjuter founder Borche Stamenov and coordinators, IT company staff and UNHCR North Macedonia staff at the certificate award ceremony. ©UNHCR/Motamed Hosseini
"We are proud to have been a part of this project and to have worked with UNHCR and the IT students to advance digital inclusion for refugees and vulnerable groups in North Macedonia," said Borche Stamenov from Doniraj Kompjuter. "This project has shown that when we work together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most."