UN-Google tie up to help refugees around the world

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Washington, Apr 12: The UN agency to safeguard the rights of refugees all over the world has announced a new partnership with search engine Google to use its globe-mapping software-- 'Google Earth'-- to illustrate the plight of displaced people. Google Earth is a free, virtual-globe program from the search engine company, which lets users zoom in on locations around the planet.

Tim Irwin, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said, ''The great thing about Google Earth is it gives you that ability to be there. We're hoping to take something that might be a little abstract for some people and make it very real.'' A click on the UN's ''visit a camp'' button in Google Earth and an online depiction of the globe can spin and zero in on a satellite view of a refugee camp in, say, Chad. Visitors can learn about the refugees who fled to that country from western Sudan's Darfur region and also find out how much money it costs to install, for instance, a new water source at the camp and donate that amount.

Hoping that the software be used by organisations on a larger scale, Rebecca Moore, manager of Google Earth Outreach, said, ''This sort of immersive experience can lead to greater understanding, greater compassion and a desire to help,'' the Washington Post reported.

Under an outreach program, Google has been populating its virtual globe with socially minded projects from such organisations as Greenpeace, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and UNICEF.

UNI

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