The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has joined with Google in an unprecedented online mapping initiative. Crisis in Darfur enables more than 200 million Google Earth users worldwide to visualize and better understand the genocide currently unfolding in Darfur, Sudan.
Crisis in Darfur is the first project of the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative that will over time include information on potential genocides allowing citizens, governments, and institutions to access information on atrocities in their nascent stages and respond.
Users of Google Earth will see the war-torn region of western Sudan highlighted with yellow boundaries and labelled “Crisis in Darfur”. Blue marks scattered across the pictures of Darfur’s harsh, arid landscape indicate refugee camps, which are holding some two million people; red flames denote villages, which gunmen have destroyed. Google Earth also carries graphic photographs and eyewitness testimony of atrocities committed during the civil war, which broke out in 2003 and has claimed about 300,000 lives through violence, starvation or disease.
Links are provided for users to contact their governments and urge action over Darfur. “We believe technology can be a catalyst for education and action,” said Elliot Schrage, Google’s head of public affairs. “Crisis in Darfur will enable Google Earth users to visualise and learn about the destruction in Darfur as never before.”
“It cuts through all the Sudanese government’s attempts to hide what is happening in Darfur by stopping journalists from going there and expelling aid workers,” said Ishbel Matheson of the Minority Rights Group who, as a BBC reporter, was among the first to cover the crisis.
“This is very important when it comes to rallying global support. If Darfur slips off the international agenda, if there is no public pressure, then nothing will happen.”
But Google Earth has adopted a highly controversial view of the Darfur conflict. It unquestioningly labels the war a “genocide” even though a United Nations investigation ruled in 2005 that the term did not apply to the events in Darfur.
Related Darfur post:
– Darfur is Dying
In this third of six segments is a presentation by Larry Swiader, Chief Information Officer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. More video’s here.