Google and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have combined their data and technological smarts for a new initiative designed to answer the most common questions about the Syrian Civil War.
Now into its seventh year, the Syrian Civil War has resulted in at least 470,000 deaths, according to the most recent data revealed by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, with as many as five million more forced to flee their homes.
As with any cataclysmic crisis, the Syrian Civil War has touched millions around the world, with many taking to the internet to find out what exactly is happening and how they can help. This is the impetus behind Searching for Syria, which serves as a dedicated portal to answer the five most common questions posted to Google Search, using data provided by the UNHCR.
“Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today,” explained UNHCR’s Filippo Grandi.
By meshing data garnered from UNHCR’s Global Trends report with Google Maps, satellite imagery, videos, photos, and stories told by refugees, the website answers the following questions:
• What was Syria like before the war?
• What is happening in Syria?
• Who is a refugee?
• Where are Syrian refugees going?
• How can I help Syrian refugees?
Google is one of a number of tech companies that have partnered with UN bodies to help support human rights issues, including addressing the ongoing refugee crisis. Just last week, Microsoft committed $5 million to a “landmark” United Nations technology partnership to better “predict, analyze, and respond” to critical human rights situations.
Facebook, too, has previously partnered with the UN to roll out free internet access to refugee camps.
“People search for many reasons — to learn and to research, or sometimes to connect, share, and overcome,” explained William Usdin, who’s heading up the Search for Syria project at Google. “Sharing these trends, based on UNHCR’s verified data, will ensure that people searching to better understand one of the most terrible events of the last six years will be able to do just that.”