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Mobile app to help Spain's migrants find feet

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Mobile app to help Spain's migrants find feet
Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP
16:27 CEST+02:00
Migrants in Spain could soon benefit from a European Union-backed program aimed at helping migrants by bringing helpful information to their fingertips via technology.

The app has been developed as part of the Maseltov initiative, which aims to create technical solutions to help immigrants integrate.

People in the Maseltov programme have worked with Spaniards who moved to Britain in search of employment opportunities and is also aimed at helping members of Madrid’s African community, many of whom are struggling to prosper due to a combination of a faltering Spanish economy and a language barrier.

After several months of workshops and the sharing of papers among the associates within the academic community, the first Maseltov mobile phone app is now set to be trialled with Turkish migrants living in Austria.

According to a press release from the Maseltov website, the spark for the three-year scheme which brings together universities, companies and NGOs was the realization that "migrants […] have to face up to numerous social, cultural and economic challenges.

"Their social interaction is often limited. They have to learn a new language and culture, and they often have to come to terms with what is for them new technology."

The Open University of Catalonia is one of the academic institutions taking part in the project and the city of Barcelona played host to a workshop last November in which the flow of people migrating from Spain to Britain was analysed. The challenges and opportunities this phenomenon implies for the people on the move was one part of the study, but also its consequences for “the social sciences and the implementation of public policies.”

Researchers from the associated Migration and Network Society program presented preliminary results of fieldwork carried out in London during July and September 2013, focusing on Spanish-speaking young adults recently arrived in the British capital, analysing their motivations, needs and mobilization of resources in contemporary digital contexts.

Maseltov stresses that immigrants represent a substantial part of the European information society. In 2005, 1.8 million people or 85 percent of the European population growth immigrated from outside Europe. For example, Austria (15 percent), Spain (12 percent) and the UK (nine percent) are major targets of immigration streams into Europe.

According to Eurostat, in January 2006, the European Union was home to some 18.5 million non-EU citizens, almost four percent of the total population of almost 493 million.

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