Voluntary Sector: UN uses web tools to assist refugees

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is using social media to make a more personal connection between refugees and the rest of the world.

Jolie: UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Jolie: UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

It wants refugees to speak for themselves, telling their own stories.

'We want to decommoditise refugees and humanise them,' said director of external relations division Nick Van Praag. 'They are not shivering masses, they are human beings.'

UNHCR has provided refugees with video equipment to document their life, giving an international voice to previously invisible stories.

The organisation also wants to make it easier for the public to connect to refugees.

It has put a 'layer' on Google Earth that allows users to zoom in on refugee camps around the world to see photos and videos of the inhabitants.

By getting its field workers to use 'twitter', the instant messaging site, it will enable the public to take greater interest in events and keep up to date with developments on the ground. It hopes to use this method in crisis situations.

The organisation wants to improve its brand awareness and is keen to attract more funding from the public.

Give Refugees a Hand, its new online campaign, aims to familiarise people with the brand.

It is asking people from around the world to upload a picture of themselves making its logo, the international protection symbol.

A YouTube viral from actress Angelina Jolie invites people to take part.

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