Google and UNHCR team up to answer five most common questions on Syria


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Google have launched new website to deliver answers to the five most common queries that people around the world are asking about the Syrian refugee crisis. The answers are delivered through rich and immersive multimedia content – some produced by UNHCR and some provided by Google.

The “Searching for Syria” website ( ) combines UNHCR data and stories, Google Search Trends and other sources to deliver answers to the five most common queries that people around the world are asking about the Syrian refugee crisis:

• What was Syria like before the war?

• What is happening in Syria?

• Who is a refugee?

• Where are Syrian refugees going?

• How can I help Syrian refugees?

I get dozens of pitches a week from people wanting me to write something on my blog and I ignore 99%. The vast majority because they are irrelevant or really terrible pitches. The best thing about the pitches is they provide me with lots of great examples to use in training courses… of how not to do it. However, this pitch was actually relevant as it combines corporate social responsibility (CSR), public relation, current affairs, news and politics. All things that I write about.

It’s a great example of CSR and a company working in partnership to make a real difference to the world. What makes it so good for me isn’t that that “it’s a good cause”, but that it is actually about what Google tries to – providing people with facts and knowledge.

It’s also a good example of how public relations people can improve the way they work. You don’t need to be Google to do a similar idea. PR people can use tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner and Answer the Public to research what people want to know by understanding their search behaviour. You can then analyse this data to provide insight that helps you to plan your communications campaign content and activity with more knowledge about questions, topics, keywords and phrases, volumes, geography and timing.

This is an example of the question visualisation provided by Answer the Public for the keyword Syria.

Answer the Public Syria visualisation graphic

On the ‘Searching for Syria’ website people can browse through the five queries and dive deeper into the content through short editorial passages, refugee profiles, photographs and videos. For users wishing to engage further, the website will offer options to share content via social networks, donate or sign up to UNHCR’s #WithRefugees global petition asking the world leaders to ensure education for refugee children, adequate shelter and livelihoods for refugee families.

The “Searching for Syria” website is available in English, French, German and Spanish with an Arabic version soon to follow. The website will be featured on the Google home page ( in selected countries or can be accessed directly at

“Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This is a fantastic project with Google that allows us to pinpoint and answer the five key questions about Syrian refugees and displaced that audiences most want to know and help us rally much needed support and funding for our humanitarian effort.”

“We’re proud to work with the UNHCR to develop Searching for Syria to help raise awareness and inform the world on the human cost of the ongoing conflict and the refugee crisis,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Vice President of “The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is difficult for most of us to fathom, but the questions on Searching for Syria are a reflection of many people’s desire to understand. Among the top searches in Germany, France, and the UK last year was: What is happening in Syria?”

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