Zooming in on Darfur with Google

12th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 April 2007, Washington (dpa) - Internet users starting Wednesday can use Google Earth to zoom in on the destruction in Darfur, western Sudan, that has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced more than 2 million people. The project - a joint effort by internet giant Google and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum - aims to stir worldwide interest and understanding of the four-year old conflict that has been labelled genocide by only a few countries, including the US. The glimpses of burnt huts and v

12 April 2007

Washington (dpa) - Internet users starting Wednesday can use Google Earth to zoom in on the destruction in Darfur, western Sudan, that has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced more than 2 million people.

The project - a joint effort by internet giant Google and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum - aims to stir worldwide interest and understanding of the four-year old conflict that has been labelled genocide by only a few countries, including the US.

The glimpses of burnt huts and villages and of refugee tent cities can be seen through a special Crisis in Darfur overlay on Google Earth, the virtual world mapping programme through which users can glimpse details down to the car in their driveways.

Google said it has added "recent" high resolution imagery of Darfur to the website, taken last year from January to March 2006.

Daowd Salih, a Sudanese refugee whose family members have been killed in Darfur, was present at the launch.

"It's not about the numbers, it's about the people, people like my brother and sister who were killed in Darfur in internally displace camps," Salih said in broadcast remarks.

Google Earth said it hoped the programme "makes it harder for us to remain complacent."

"It serves as an unequivocal indictment of the Janjaweed, and of the Sudanese government whose implicit support it has enjoyed," Google Earth organisers said in a statement. "This is the kind of evidence that puts paid to the claims still coming out of Khartoum that the ethnic cleansing is not widespread."

The Janjaweed are government-backed militia that have carried out killing and violence with the backing of the Sudanese government.

Holocaust museum director Sara Bloomfield said that technologies like Google Earth were important to enhancing the education of "today's generation" about atrocities of the past and present.

"We hope this important initiative ... will make it that much harder for the world to ignore those who need us the most," she said.

A blogger on the Google Earth announcement asked why "the world, and especially the West" needed "mapped proof."

"This genocide has been taking place for years," wrote the blogger "arflechien."

In a related development, the special US envoy for the conflict in Sudan, Andrew Natsios, said Wednesday that the US has held off imposing bilateral sanctions on Sudan to give the United Nations time to negotiate with Khartoum over the deployment of a peacekeeping force.

Natsios told a congressional committee that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the United States to delay punitive measures and give the current round of negotiations a chance to succeed.

Natsios said if the negotiations fail to convince Sudan to permit the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, the United States will proceed with travel bans, the freezing of bank accounts and sanctions against more than two dozen large companies owned by the Sudanese government.

DPA

Subject: German news

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