Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Way We Live Now, Part 3

The UN is assuming that people who don't have homes or food have cell phones:

Iraqi refugees in Syria will receive UN food vouchers through text messages on mobile phones, the World Food Programme said Tuesday.

In a test project targeting 1,000 Iraqi refugee families, the United Nations agency will send a 22-dollar (15-euro) voucher every two months by SMS to each family, who will be provided with a special SIM card.

The beneficiary can then exchange the electronic voucher for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil, canned fish, cheese and eggs at selected shops.

At "selected shops?" The phrase reminds of the promo copy for retail gift cards:

"Good at participating Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, and LongHorn Steakhouse locations."

But wait, it gets better:

Addressing concerns about mobile phone ownership among the refugee population, WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said all the 130,000 Iraqi refugees currently receiving food aid from the agency in Syria have mobile phones.

Well, that's just spiffy--except that figures provided over the past two years by Amnesty International and the Syrian government indicate there are over a million Iraqi refugees in Syria.

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