The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has teamed up with Google to give anyone with Web access a chance to see what life and conditions are like in a refugee camp. The initial iteration centers on Chad, Iraq, Colombia and Darfur.

Web surfers can explore camps through the visual, textual, audio and video information that’s layered on top of the bigger picture. Pop-up windows throughout the images of the camps tell you what’s going on, and what’s needed. You can also move in close enough to examine the infrastructure, including schools and other facilities.

The UNHCR says the tools will help its workers on the ground, but it will also be critical in terms of getting its message out. “Google Earth is a very powerful way for UNHCR to show the vital work that it is doing in some of the world’s most remote and difficult displacement situations,” says Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees L. Craig Johnstone. “By showing our work in its geographical context, we can really highlight the challenges we face on the ground and how we tackle them.” And, hopefully, get more people to help.

Via ars technica