The civil war in Syria has continued for six long years. Over those years, more than five million people have been forced to leave their homes, their families, their communities, their work, their education in order to seek shelter throughout neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. The sheer scale of the crisis can leave an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness; in understanding what has happened and is happening; in being able to do something in response, in support or in solidarity.
When it comes to the war in Syria, and the subsequent refugee crisis, the world has a LOT of questions. According to Google, users have been using the facility to try and find some answers to their questions. It appeared that many people were asking the same questions about the conflict, such as, ‘What is going on in Syria?’, ‘What is a refugee?’ and ‘How can I help?’.
In partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Google has created a new platform to address these questions.
Searching for Syria has been launched as a new way for people to learn about Syria as a country, the civil war which has ravaged it and the people who have fled as a result. One of the main aims of Searching for Syria was to not only assist in people’s understanding of the crisis but to show the human side also. Using UNHCR data, google maps, satellite imagery, videos, photographs and stories from refugees themselves, the website hopes to provide some answers to some of the most asked questions about Syria.
“Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees, and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.
When faced with issues such as the civil war in Syria, people often ask, what can I do? Searching for Syria also offers three suggestions as to how you can help Syrian refugees: creating awareness, sharing what you can, and standing in solidarity.
This platform is an ideal space for teachers, youth workers, adult and community workers, activists, anyone in education of any form to explore this issue with their students, learn together and perhaps take some informed action together.
- Check out the stories of Syrian students overcome barriers to make their marks in Ireland, reported in the Irish Times by Sorcha Pollak (May 23, 2017)