[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]


Jun 03, 1999 10:28 AM
by JRC

This is a press release from the Internet Society (a large, international
organization of Internet Professionals). This is a major project drawing on
internet programmers and companies from around the world to cooperate in a
single humanitarian effort. It is entirely driven by donations of time,
skills, hardware and software, and money. Anyone interested or able to help
in this project will find contact information at the bottom of the post ...
or feel free to visit the website at <>.  There is a
special section on that site dealing with needs and offers. --JRC


RESTON, VA May 28, 1999 -- The Internet Society and The Wladyslaw Poniecki
Foundation, of El Cerrito, California, announced today the formation of to help reunite families who have been separated during their
migration from worn-torn Yugoslavia. The site allows use of the Internet as
the vehicle for registration consolidation. also hosts an
intra-camp communications center with electronic bulletin board posting
capability and person-to-person, web-mail communications for Kosovar

More than 1,000,000 ethnic Albanians have fled the hostilities in
Yugoslavia, creating the largest forced migration of people in Europe since
World War II. The displaced refugees have been relocated not merely within
the former Yugoslav territory, but to far more distant countries. Refugees
are now in Greece, Turkey, Israel, Germany, neighboring countries such as
Macedonia and Albania, and in the United States. While humanitarian
assistance continues, matching displaced families can begin across
international boundaries using the web site. hosts a unified, searchable database developed for use by all
those who will be called upon to assist the Kosovar refugees worldwide,
including humanitarian relief agencies, public institutions and national
embassies. The Project hopes to facilitate and extend the
work of registration volunteers in the field by collating data into a
single repository with an easy-to-use interface that can be accessed and
used more conveniently by many relief organizations.

The need for this unified database is all the more acute since the Kosovo
tragedy involves the systematic erasure of identity. Adversaries have
destroyed records, deeds, school records, birth and death records, and all
traces of lineage and family ties.

"This is the first major worldwide crisis to which the Internet community
has responded," said Don Heath, president of the Internet Society. "We
stand ready to help the real heroes in the field with global and instant
communications capabilities. With, we are providing a fast,
easy and secure means for relief agencies to combine data and expand
efforts to reunite Kosovar families. We also hope to bring focus to other
efforts being launched among our Internet community."

The Internet database will permit storage of names as text, as well as
photographs, full motion video and audio files. The Internet Society,
through its volunteer members and offices in the United States and Europe,
has been involved with international relief agencies. The KosovoNet Project
invites relief agencies to share data so that a complete electronic
registrar may be built.

Refugees will also have access to the database through supporting
organizations, as well as access to other accommodations on the site. At
the request of USAID, a web mail service has been established on for refugees based at Fort Dix, New Jersey, to begin
re-establishing connections with family worldwide. The system can be used
by refugees anywhere in the world with access to the site.
While access to the outside world via Internet email is being established,
a bulletin board exists as a vehicle for some external, worldwide
communications to transpire. For security reasons, postings and email will
be monitored and archived so any problems can be addressed constructively.
The site will be made available in English and Albanian.

Bringing Together the Internet Industry and Humanitarian Communities

The Internet Society, which extends the use of the Internet to all sectors,
and The Poniecki Foundation, which has been active in humanitarian efforts
since 1990, are coordinating the contributions and volunteer efforts of
corporate and private donors to apply Internet technologies to the purpose
of reuniting families.

"This is exactly the type of life-saving and family-preserving application
for which the Internet should be used," said Heath. "Our member companies
and individual Internet users feel privileged to be involved in this
worthwhile endeavor to relieve the human suffering."

Internet companies have come together to develop Sun
Microsystems has donated a Sun Enterprise Server to host the multimedia
applications and Web connections required. Oracle Software is offering
database methods including data warehousing, data mining tools and
object-oriented retrieval systems. Monetary contributions will also be
collected using e-commerce software. Companies such as Virtuosity, a
high-tech firm that offers data support for telecomm and its software,
Wildfire, which provide voice routing for telephone calls, have jumped
on-board to again use technology to solve the humanitarian problem.

Among the first local groups to sign on for call center support once the
Internet site gains momentum is the Department of Education of the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, California. Teachers and students
will work together at the Bay Area Catholic Schools to staff a telephone
hotline that includes voice recognition technology.

"The outpouring of support for the initiative has been
overwhelming," said Monica Dodds Grycz, president of The Poniecki
Foundation.   "We hope this cooperative effort will maximize the work of
volunteers in the field, whether they work under the auspices of US
humanitarian agencies, the United Nations, or private international relief

The Internet Society

The Internet Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the
open evolution, development and use of the Internet for the benefit of all
peoples of the world. It is the acknowledged champion and focal point for
Internet self-governance, and it is the only organization whose members
have been involved in all aspects of the Internet since its inception. The
Internet Society has active members in 150 countries, and assumes a
leadership role in developing and disseminating Internet policy on
technical and societal issues, providing education and training for
Internet professionals and generally representing the best interests of the

The Poniecki Foundation

The Wladyslaw Poniecki Foundation, Inc. is active in Central and Eastern
European countries undergoing the difficult transition from command-driven
to more participatory free-market economies. Its mission is to apply
technological advances and educate communities on organizing themselves to
accomplish social good. As part of a US-AID cooperative agreement and as a
subcontractor to the World Wildlife Fund (US), the Foundation translated
workbooks on the development and use of electronic networks, and
established grassroots "International Organization of Information
Specialists" chapters in several countries. It has also been engaged in
educational activities in New Delhi, Bogota, Colombia. Activities have
included helping to establish an International post-graduate educational
center for Information Managers in Central and Eastern Europe at Nicholas
Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.  The Foundation has published
scholarly and educational books in the disciplines of business, education,
management, entrepreneurship, medicine, and the environment.


For additional information contact:

Czeslaw "Chet" Jan Grycz Project
c/o the Poniecki Foundation
El Cerrito, California

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application