New Mobile Translation App Helping IOM’s Work with COVID-19 in the Western Balkans

Posted: 
05/12/20
Themes: 
COVID-19

Since the arrival of COVID-19, MiTA — IOM’s new Migration Translation App—has been given a rapid upgrade to take account of the added challenges facing migrants in the Western Balkans.  

A new section is designed to help border management officials identify persons at risk and refer them for medical screening. It includes questions related to basic symptoms, recent travel history, and travel companions.  

“Migrants face more than physical barriers on their journeys”, explained Donatella Bradic, programme manager with IOM in Serbia. “Effective communication in a language that both migrants and border officials understand is crucial in identifying the immediate needs of the migrant and ensuring an appropriate and protection-sensitive response. That’s why we designed this App, and it’s already proving a boon in a time of COVID-19” 

IOM has been working closely with border management authorities in the Western Balkans to develop a bespoke solution since 2018, with EU funding.  

“We had a number of key requirements,” added IOM’s Bradic. “Any system would have to be available at all times, be simple and reliable, operationally and financially sustainable and respect the rights and privacy of both migrants and border officials.” 

Earlier this year, the Organization began trial on the MiTA, a mobile application, which facilitates basic communication between migration management officials and migrants during border procedures and situations of first contact.  

It is a free, custom-built offline application which contains 52 simple questions relating to the identity, mode of travel, health and immediate protection needs of the migrants. The questions and answer options are translated into 12 languages (English, Macedonian, Albanian, Bosnian/Montenegrin/Serbian, French, Turkish, Arabic, Pashto, Urdu, Kurdish, Somali and Farsi), and can be “read aloud” as sound recordings.  

The languages included in MiTA are those spoken most frequently by migrants that encounter border officials in the Western Balkans. MiTA can also display a world map so that the migrants can easily communicate their travel routes and destination, as well as a calendar in two different formats (Gregorian and Hijri).  

MiTA does not store any personal information about migrants or users, but it does allow users to export the answers provided by the migrant as an email message or to download them in a PDF format on the mobile device. 

MiTA is available for Android devices on the Google Play Store, and for iOS devices on the Apple App Store.  

 

For more information, please contact: 

Donatella Bradic at IOM Serbia, Tel: +381 11 3 28 20 75, Email: dbradic@iom.int  

Ivan Kochovski at IOM North Macedonia, Tel: +389 78 22 14 77, Email: ikochovski@iom.int 

  • A video still from the MiTA Migration Translation App

  • MiTA, IOM’s brand new Migration Translation App, has been given a rapid upgrade to take account of the added challenges facing migrants in the Western Balkans since the arrival of COVID-19.