Google has announced a new program in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that is aimed at educating the masses about the people and cultures of Syria. The program – which is called Searching for Syria – was announced via Google's official blog on May 22nd, and the apparent goal is to end some of the misinformation and resulting maligned attitudes about Syrian refugees that have propagated over the last several years. The outreach program takes the form of a full-blown website that specifically uses information from the UHCR, Google Maps data, satellite images, videos, and photos – as well as actual stories from the refugees themselves – to provide answers to some of the most searched questions about the refugees and the area.
The new program was inspired, at least in part, by a subtle shift in perspective in terms of searches used related to the country. That shift, Google says, can be represented by an example. Among the over 10 million searches conducted last year regarding Syria, one very popular search term used to be "Where are Syrian refugees going?" More recently, that has been overtaken by the question "What was Syria like before the war?" and other similar questions. That shift seems to indicate that people are growing more introspective about what has been happening in the country since they are questioning how this has impacted the people of the region instead of how the people of the region will be affecting themselves. That may show that this is the perfect time to start conversations and find solutions, which is something the search giant definitely seems to have picked up on.
Google has played a big role in helping refugees escaping the ongoing civil war in Syria. Obviously, this isn't the company's first effort on that front. The war itself has been ongoing since March of 2011 and resulted in more than 5 million people being displaced. As a point of reference, Hurricane Katrina displaced around 400,000 people. Google has, for its part, invested in support solutions for refugees to the tune of more than $20 million. Those investments translate to help for around 800,000 refugees. In addition to having an entire team dedicated to ethics and safety, some of the company's leadership has also played a more personal role in protesting against what could be perceived as attempts to create anti-immigration or anti-refugee laws. So this latest from the company, in partnership with UHCR, really fits inline with the company's overall ideals and goals. Anybody interested in learning more about this new attempt to open up discussion about the situation can check out the included video and source link below.