Google supports refugees access reliable information and learn digital skills

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An example of a search query in Arabic with authoritative answers from UNHCR.
An example of a search query in Arabic with authoritative answers from UNHCR.

GENEVA — On World Refugee Day, Google is renewing its commitment to work together with nonprofits and find more long-term solutions. Google is supporting the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with $550,000 Google.org and YouTube grants to provide refugees with necessary materials to endure the pandemic, digital skills training series and updates to Google Search in affected countries to improve access to reliable information.

Surfacing reliable information to refugees on Google Search

Often refugees struggle to access timely, trusted and accurate information on the web. Using Google Trends and UNHCR’s internal insights, Google identified the most common refugee related questions, and helped UNHCR navigate the available developer platform to provide refugees with authoritative answers clearly displayed on Google Search to questions like “What happens during the Refugee Status Determination interview?” and “How to qualify for cash assistance?”

These results are already available in Arabic, English, Turkish and Farsi, to help refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. These countries represent the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.

Equipping refugees with digital skills for future opportunities

Refugees and internally displaced people around the world are facing job losses due to the pandemic’s restrictions. According to UNHCR, 47 percent of the refugee population in 2019 was between the ages 18 and 59, and the unemployment rate in this demographic is expected to rise.

Google is announcing a $300,000 Google.org grant to help UNHCR further prepare refugees for the changing nature of work. The organization will host 'Maharat min Google' online training to help refugees and host community members in the Middle East and North Africa region including countries like Algeria and Morocco, learn digital skills in Arabic throughout a course of a year.

More than 79 million were displaced at the end of last year as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations — 29 million of which were refugees. The global pandemic knows no borders and is affecting everyone — including refugees. Already, YouTube has donated $250,000 to UNHCR to help provide life-saving support, including water, medical care and hygiene materials to refugees and the communities who host them in affected countries.

"The number of people forcibly displaced remains at a record high, and the effects of the crisis will go on for years. Nonprofits working alongside these affected communities need our help, and we’ll continue to support them through immediate relief and long-term recovery," said Jacquelline Fuller, VP, Google.org.

Houssam Chahine, UNHCR's chief of private sector partnerships in MENA, said, “While COVID-19 is a global pandemic affecting each and every person, its unequal impact on marginalized communities such as refugees and internally displaced populations, cannot be dismissed. Evidence of the dense economic impact of the crisis on refugees who were already struggling with lack of access to basic necessities is overwhelming.

“Our work at UNHCR, and with the support of partners such as Google and YouTube, is to ensure refugees are not left behind. With 79.5 million forcibly displaced people around the world, we alone cannot reach everyone, and count on the support of similar partnerships with the larger community, from corporates, foundations and governments, to the individual, because every action makes a difference and every act counts.” — SG


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