• EU app seeks to help asylum seekers join relocation program
  • Aim of distributing 160,000 migrants across EU falling short

The European Union added a mobile app to its toolkit for tackling the refugee crisis, harnessing the proliferation of smart phones among hundreds of thousands of migrants as it struggles to distribute asylum seekers across the 28-member bloc.

QuickTake Europe's Refugee Crisis

The EU’s refugee agency, the European Asylum Support Office, issued the “EU Relocation Program” app on Thursday, it said in an e-mailed statement. It aims to channel asylum seekers who have flooded into Greece and Italy from the Middle East and North Africa into the EU distribution program set up last year to relocate 160,000 refugees across the bloc by September 2017.

Facing resistance from member states, especially in eastern Europe, to allowing thousands of migrants into their country, the relocation program has fallen far short of its goal. Just over 3,000 asylum seekers had been relocated from Greece and Italy as of mid-July, according to the EU.

The app contains information on registration requirements, location of first-registration centers, known as “hotspots,” countries to which refugees can relocate as well as a frequently-asked-questions menu and videos. It is available in five languages, including English and Arabic.

Mobile phones became an essential tool for the hundreds of thousands of migrants who made their way to Europe last year from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other countries over the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

“We noticed that many are equipped with smart phones in the hotspots,” EASO Executive Director Jose Carreira said in the statement. “Smart phones have revolutionized the way everyone works and EASO here shows that it has adopted modern communication tools which are most suited for our specific audience.”

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