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Like most people in an emergency, refugees made sure they had their smartphones.

While working on our Road Trip 2016 summer series "Life, Disrupted" -- about how technology is (or isn't) helping with the global refugee crisis -- CNET reporters often used Google Translate to interview refugees and migrants they met.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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A teenager living in Athens' old airport video-chats with a friend.

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Migrants and refugees rely on their phones for things like storing files, messaging, translating and shining flashlights.

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Mobile phones have become lifelines to refugees.

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A vendor sells SIM cards and phones to people living in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos.

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With help from Greek solar company Entec, students from Edinburgh University designed and built a solar charging station in a Lesvos refugee camp.

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Water and a mobile phone: Two essentials for survival as a refugee.

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Three men charge their phones in a camp near Thessaloniki, in northern Greece.

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Rabee Abo Tarah, who lives in an abandoned hotel in Athens, shows a selfie he took on the notoriously perilous boat trip from Turkey to Greece. The former hotel now houses about 400 refugees.

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Strung-together charging strips provide power inside a building at Athens' port Piraeus.

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Social and messaging apps, like Facebook and WhatsApp, are essential tools.

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Masood Qahar, of Afghanistan, shows his badge from NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

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Migrants often carry multiple SIM cards to use across different cell networks.

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Music can cross borders, and remind people of home.

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What would you grab in an emergency? USB drives store refugees' important documents, as well as family photos and other mementos.

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You'll hear many languages and dialects in refugee camps, making mobile translation apps an essential tool.

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External battery packs can charge phones when outlets and charging stations aren't available.

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Marches and protests, and opportunities for housing in Athens are often organized online and through social media.

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Power strips linked together and fed by extension cords, outside a camp on Lesvos.

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The Red Cross built a phone charging station for a refugee camp in Greece.

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A tangle of power strips.

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These men are waiting for their phones to charge.

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In Athens' minimal tent encampments, refugees seek out for power for their devices.

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Solar lanterns provide the only light to a makeshift camp in Serbia.

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Migrants in a Serbian refugee camp huddle around power strips to charge their phones.

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A refugee taps into one of dozens of power plugs available to residents of the Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk, France. The network connection can be spotty, but free charging makes life easier.

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A volunteer-run effort called the Refugee Info Bus provides free Wi-Fi to the Jungle refugee camp in Calais, France. The battered truck also shares information about refugee asylum rights and serves as a stage for musical performances.

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There's no electricity in the refugee camp in Calais, France. A makeshift shop lets people charge their phones via a gas-powered generator.

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The Freiland youth-culture center in Potsdam, Germany, includes an internet cafe.

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Kamil Shamal, a 16-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, holds his basic Samsung phone. He doesn't want his face photographed.

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Firas Alshater is a YouTube star in Germany. He uses a Canon Vixia Mini to record videos that use humor to break down social barriers.

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Google donated 22 Chromebooks to a refugee shelter in Berlin. Residents use them to learn German, look for jobs and communicate with family and friends back home.

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Kids living in a Berlin shelter play Clash of Clans on an Android tablet.

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A refugee shows a photo of him, his wife and their child as they sleep, homeless in Hungary. The family fled fundamentalist forces in Iraq.

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