World Refugee Day: Giving refugees a hand on Facebook
GENEVA, June 19 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency is embracing new media with a vengeance, launching on Thursday a pioneering Facebook application to raise funds and awareness about refugee protection.
UNHCR is already using other popular social networking sites such as YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Deli.cio.us and Reddit to reach the massive online community and inform people about its work helping millions of uprooted people around the world.
The application launched Thursday on Facebook, which counts more than 80 million users, cements UNHCR's growing reputation as a leading international organization in new media.
This innovative tool provides a variety of activities, all of which are matched by donations from UNHCR's partners. By adding the application to their profiles and by uploading a photo of themselves imitating the agency's "protecting hands" logo, users donate 10 cents and US$1 respectively to refugee protection.
Users can raise even more funds by sharing the application with friends and family. Once added to a profile, the application displays information about a user's recruitment activities and provides links to information about the challenge of protection.
Today's Facebook launch is part of a longer term engagement by the UN refugee agency to mobilize the online community for refugee protection. In recent months, UNHCR has launched pages and profiles on several major social networking sites. Together, these interactive and user-driven utilities carry the potential to reach millions of people and raise substantial funds.
"This is a cutting-edge experiment for UNHCR that, for the first time, brings together some of the most important new media tools and technology to allow individuals to share their views and offer support on behalf of refugees around the world," said Claudia Gisiger-Gonzalez, senior external relations officer at the agency.
UNHCR has been making extensive use of the new media sites to promote tomorrow's World Refugee Day (WRD) and its theme of "Protection." Since June 13, the landing page of UNHCR's international website has been devoted to WRD. The special WRD page, which will remain posted until Monday, carries streams of content while special news stories are combined with a menu of online activities for visitors wanting to get involved.
With global video premieres featuring such advocates as acclaimed American actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, and Chicago Bulls basketball star Luol Deng, YouTube has been a central platform during the week leading up to World Refugee Day.
On Twitter, users can follow the struggle to protect the forcibly uprooted across the globe. The site allows users to follow the agency's staff in local offices around the world as well as at the headquarters in Geneva.
By Roland Sundstrom in Geneva
Click here to upload the application