Google Earth Partners with the UN for Refugee Outreach Program

By April 09, 2008

Internet giant, Google, and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) announced an online mapping system that zooms in on the plight of refugees around the world.   The Google Earth Outreach program allows the UNHCR and other public outreach

groups to use Google Earth and Maps to emphasize their work on behalf of millions of refugees in dangerous, far away locations around the world. Google Earth Outreach aids any individual or organization in quickly and easily raising awareness of humanitarian rights, recruiting volunteers, and collecting donations.    In a press release, Google said “the program includes comprehensive online guides, video tutorials, and case studies about using Google Earth specifically targeted to the needs of nonprofit organizations.”   "All of the things that we do for refugees in the refugee camps around the world will become more visible," underscored UN deputy high commissioner L. Craig Johnstone. The new UNHCR layers not only detail specific refugee situations, but are also particularly helpful for staff and clients to extend UNHCR's outreach and visibility, as well as valuable for its own internal administration. The first layer provides an overview of UNHCR itself and spotlights only three of the refugee agency's global operations – Chad/Darfur, Colombia and Iraq – but plans are under way to expand. It also explores neighboring countries and maps the location of refugee camps on the Google Earth. The second layer explores refugee health, education, water and sanitation. The third level, the "macro-view", looks at life within a refugee camp, examining schools, water points and other infrastructure. The new program, Google and UNHCR hopes, will arouse awareness of refugee struggles and perhaps provoke a larger community dialogue regarding the plight of refugees. By Kathleen Clark   FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at

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