In 2021, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) took over Marhub, a successful migration management platform that relied on an AI-powered chat bot called Mona that helped Syrian and Iraqi asylum-seekers navigate bureaucracy and connect with assistance in a reliable, empathetic, and accessible way. The platform was developed by Marhub International in partnership with service-providing organizations, including IRAP, to aid those seeking asylum and family reunification in the US and the EU. Marhub International used public crowdfunding campaigns to maintain operations amid growing demand for use of its digital platform. It also sought volunteers to support efforts in fundraising, UX research and design, software engineering, data science, and Arabic language translations. IRAP is now integrating the platform into its operations and expanding the platform's scope.
Marhub aimed to counteract misinformation and harmful content, empower refugees to protect themselves, and stem the spread of the virus in their communities by making accurate coronavirus information accessible to refugees through its digital platform. Using Mona, Marhub rapidly deployed accurate, tailored information about the pandemic to help refugees protect themselves. The information, accessible in both English and Arabic through social media, was adapted from guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and verified by medical professionals. In addition to general guidance on basic hygiene, prevention, and symptoms, Mona addressed common questions and popular myths about the virus, and it provided practical tips that were tailored to refugee communities.
Theory of Change
Providing accurate, reliable and empathetic information through accessible means can help refugees go through the asylum process faster and rebuild their lives more effectively.
Marhub’s chatbot Mona, available on Facebook and Telegram, provided assistance in English and Arabic. The program screened refugees’ eligibility for resettlement and shared personalized information on next steps and referred users to relevant organizations, such as IRAP for legal assistance, while flagging vulnerable cases to ensure a timely response. Moreover, Marhub collaborated with partners to provide information to refugees about obtaining birth certificates, employment-based visas, and educational resources and scholarships. To assist its partners, Marhub automated intake and triage, collected information from its users, and drove improvement by collecting feedback and sharing data-driven insights.
Marhub assisted thousands of users around the world. Its Mona chatbot went viral, reaching over 3,000 refugees shortly after its release. In 2020 alone, Marhub helped over 17,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, worked across nine countries, received 8,500 hours of assistance from volunteers, and provided access to legal aid 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also increased its number of international partners during the course of its operations to expand the content that refugees can access through Mona. Integrating the platform into IRAP's operations will allow the successful initiative to scale up to reach a wider audience.