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‘Searching For Syria’ Is Google’s Innovative Response To The Refugee Crisis

This could help millions of displaced populations

Right now, the world is experiencing the highest levels of displacement on record, with more than 20 million people currently under “refugee” status—more than 5 million of whom come from Syria—according to the United Nations.

Since the Syrian war began, millions of people have flooded over neighboring borders in the hopes of finding peace and safety for themselves and and their families. However, the conflict has turned more political than ever, with politicians and human rights groups the world over arguing just where to house all of these people.

On Monday, The U.N. refugee agency, in partnership with Google, launched a new and completely immersive website to help people understand the five most common search queries about Syria and its refugee crisis.

The site, titled Searching For Syria, allows users to explore some of the detail behind the five most searched questions using the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) data with Google Maps, satellite imagery, videos, photography, and stories from refugees.

“We see through Google Search trends that people are certainly trying to understand the scale of the crisis,” Google said in a statement. “Among the top trending searches in Germany, France, and the U.K. last year was ‘What is happening in Syria?’ and simply, ‘What is a refugee?’ People in every corner of the world are turning to Google Search to find out what’s going on and how they might help. In 2016 alone, people searched for information about Syria and the Syrian people over tens of millions of times.”

Beyond imagery, the site also explains the deep and rich history of Syria, something often forgotten today, noting its incredible impact on the whole of humankind, mentioning that Damascus was even honored as the Arab Capital of Culture in 2008, just before the war began. The site honors the once-stunning city by showing imagery of what it once was—versus what war and violence has reduced it to.

Check out Google’s heartbreaking before and after photos, breathtaking videos, and immersive 360-degree content here.

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