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Humanitarian Crises, Aid Can Now Be 'Googled'

Humanitarian crises, aid can now be 'Googled' through UN agency view

8 April 2008 - Computer users can now zoom down into displacement camps in Darfur, Chad, Iraq, Colombia and elsewhere on Earth in a new on-line programme unveiled today by Internet search giant Google and the United Nations refugee agency.

Google Earth Outreach gives the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian agencies the ability to use Google Earth and Maps to graphically bring home their work in some of the world's most remote areas.

The online visitor can descend from the 'macro-view' over a refugee camp to examine schools, water points and other infrastructure, or can view videos, background on the UNHCR and other actors, maps and other elements enriched with pop-up information.

"Google Earth is a very powerful way for UNHCR to show the vital work that it is doing in some of the world's most remote and difficult displacement situations," Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees L. Craig Johnstone said at the launch of the project in

Geneva. UNHCR's technical experts said that as it grows, the Google Earth programme will allow the agency and its humanitarian partners to build and share with each other a visual, geographic record of the joint efforts on the ground.

Such shared records could include, they said, cross-border mapping of population flows as well as the location of displaced persons in relation to their places of origin, to be used for logistical planning for repatriation operations, for example.

According to UNHCR, 350 million people around the world have already downloaded Google Earth, which allows viewers to zoom in on localities from satellite eye's view.

ENDS

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