Google has announced a very powerful Google Earth file for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR organization provides shelter and assistance to millions of people forced from their homes – mostly by political circumnstances. With a staff of only 6500, the organization is helping millions of desperate people. The evidence of just how bad the plight is for refugees can be seen right in Google Earth. The file will fly you to many refugee camps so you can see what is happening, and learn about the challenges people are facing in remote places around the world (it used to be “out of sight, out of mind“, but times are changing).
June 20th is World Refugee Day, and to help send out word about the plight of refugees to the world, Google has added recent imagery of refugee camps – and created a very dramatic tour of just a few refugee camps. The UNHCR got permission to play the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” song to help their campaign starting last December. So, the Tour has the song playing in the background. You can watch the Google Earth Gimme Shelter Tour in the full desktop app (free GE 5 required), or you can watch it right here (via the embed a tour tool). Note, you can pause the tour at any point and zoom in to see more details – or read the placemarks. And, more importantly, you can click at the end to the “Donate” button. Watch and listen to it below – it only takes about 4 minutes:
In honor of World Refugee Day, all proceeds from Google Earth Blog from June 20th will be donated to the UNHCR. $100 can buy a survival kit for a refugee family. I hope other blogs will both embed this tour and donate their proceeds as well.
In 2007, Google did something similar by creating a layer highlighting what was happening to refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan through Google Earth. But, the technology of Google Earth has greatly improved since then. The tour above is broadening the scope of the message to include refugees around the world.