There are plenty of times when there’s much more to a story than a headline or tweet might suggest, so we admit we had to check out the Economist and its claim that today’s refugees require Wi-Fi access as much as they need food.

Some claim that climate change is driving the refugee crisis in Syria and elsewhere around the world, and last year the federal government spent $48 million to resettle the first batch of U.S. climate refugees. But refugees need more than simply food and water and a safe place to live; they need Internet access.

The Economist’s article begins with the story of a 32-year-old Afghan who is often faced with the choice of food or Internet connectivity, which means that “he and his fellow travellers — his sister, her friend and five children — sometimes go hungry.”

… according to UNHCR, the UN’s agency for refugees, refugees can easily spend a third of their disposable income on staying connected. In a camp near the French city of Dunkirk, where mostly Iraqi refugees live until they manage to get on a truck to Britain, many walk for miles to find free Wi-Fi: according to NGOs working there, the French authorities, reluctant to make the camp seem permanent, have stopped them providing internet connections. Some of the residents buy pricey SIM cards brought over from Britain, where buyers need not show an ID, as they must in France.

What? The French have stopped providing Internet connections to make refugee camps seem less like permanent homes? That gives us an idea how to get the kids to finally move out of the basement …

Those cell phones aren’t going to be much use without minutes and Internet access.

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