Associated Press - April 8, 2008 11:23 AM ET
GENEVA (AP) - Internet search giant Google is joining forces with the United Nations to shine a spotlight on the movement of refugees around the world.
Google has unveiled a new feature for its popular mapping programs. Users can download Google Earth software to see satellite images of refugee hot spots such as Darfur, Iraq and Colombia. Information provided by the U.N. refugee agency explains where the refugees have come from and what problems they face.
The U.N. says the maps will aid humanitarian operations as well as help inform the public about the millions who have fled their homes because of violence or hardship.
Google says more than 350 million people have already downloaded Google Earth, which was launched three years ago. It was originally intended for highly realistic video games. But its use by rescuers during Hurricane Katrina led the company to reach out to governments and nonprofit organizations.