An update on our response to the refugee and migrants crisis
Millions of people around the world want to do what they can to help refugees and migrants caught up in the crisis in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa. We wanted to give you an update on where things stand as we continue to think about what Google—and all of us—can do to help.
A month ago we invited everyone to make a donation to support the work of organizations providing essential assistance to refugees and migrants. We were amazed that in just over 48 hours people around the world donated €5M ($5.5. million) to support the work of Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. As promised, we then matched your donations with €5M in Google.org grants to support high-impact projects, like offering wireless connectivity solutions in refugee camps, providing emergency cash transfers to refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and enabling access to education. Googlers around the world also gave, donating more than €1.2M (matched by Google) to charities working on the humanitarian efforts.
These organizations and their staff are doing incredible work in very difficult circumstances, and have the skills and contacts necessary on the ground. With that in mind, we’ve been working with them to better understand how our technology expertise can be put to work, too. One issue identified was the the lack of timely, hyperlocal information for refugees. Working with the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps, we’ve developed an open source project called “Crisis Info Hub” to disseminate such information in a lightweight, battery-saving way. Already live in Lesvos (with more locations coming online shortly) and being run by our NGO partners, Crisis Info Hub is providing refugees—most of whom carry smartphones—with critical information for their journeys: lodging, transportation, medical facilities, etc. And we’re working to make connectivity in the region more widespread and reliable by partnering with NetHope to deploy robust access solutions where they’re needed most.
When refugees travel across different countries, they’re confronted with languages they don’t speak, which can make it even more difficult to know where to turn to access the most basic needs. Just this year, we saw a 5X growth in Arabic translations in Germany, which got us thinking about what we could do to make our products work better for Arabic speakers in these places. We’ve since added Arabic as our 28th language for instant visual translation, enabling immediate, offline translation of signs and other printed text from English or German to Arabic. We’re also asking anyone who knows the languages spoken by refugees or the countries they’re traveling through to help us improve translations through Google Translate Community—our goal is 2 million community contributions. Hundreds of thousands of people have helped out already; if you speak Arabic and German, we’d love your help.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to work closely with our partners on the ground to evaluate how else we can bring the best of Google’s resources to help out with this tragic situation. Thank you for all your generosity and support so far.