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Google, UN unveil project to map movement of refugees

Geneva: Google Inc unveiled a new feature for its popular mapping programs on Tuesday that shines a spotlight on the movement of refugees around the world.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which is working with Google on the project, said the maps would aid humanitarian operations as well as help the public understand more about the millions who have fled their homes because of violence or hardship.

Users can download the Google Earth software to see satellite images of refugee hot spots such as Darfur, Iraq and Colombia. Information provided by the UN refugee agency explains where the refugees have come from and what problems they face.

Google’s outreach program has already been used by a number of nonprofit groups to raise awareness, recruit volunteers and encourage donations.

Among them are the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the UN Environmental Program and the Jane Goodall Institute.

Google also provides the groups with training and free copies of its professional mapping software.