See what’s happening on the ground

Google Earth lets users see refugee camps and destroyed villages. This refugee camp—Abu Shouk, in Darfur, Sudan—is “home” to som
Google Earth lets users see refugee camps and destroyed villages. This refugee camp—Abu Shouk, in Darfur, Sudan—is “home” to som
Courtesy USHMM

Genocide is "the deliberate and systematic destruction of an entire people who belong to one racial, political, cultural, or religious group." But genocide doesn’t always mean outright killing—it can also mean forcing people into inhuman living conditions, preventing births within a group, or forcibly moving children of the group to another group. Genocide affects millions of people worldwide right now, and many more of them die from disease, starvation, and exposure than direct violence. The Genocide Prevention Initiative is monitoring the situation in Darfur and three other areas of the world. Using Google Earth, you can keep an eye on genocide, too.

For example, Google Earth has updated satellite images of western Sudan. You fly over Africa, see the outline of Darfur, then zoom down and see destroyed villages. Zooming in closer, you enter the villages through eyewitness testimony and photographs. "Now anyone with a computer can get into Darfur and see what’s really happening," Heffernan says. "You get the scope and the systematic nature of the way these villages have been destroyed, and also a very personal idea of how these villages have been attacked and how it’s affected the people who come from those villages."

Turn outrage into action

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Genocide is a big problem, and it’s happening far away. But there are things you can do:

  • Find out more about places at risk of genocide or related crimes against humanity.
  • Let the media know that you want better coverage of places at risk of genocide or related crimes against humanity.
  • Tell decision makers about the need to provide humanitarian assistance, protect civilians, stop the violence, and promote solutions to the crises.
  • Help spread the word. Talk about what you’ve learned with your friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Support education and relief efforts. Find out more about organizations working on the ground, what they’re doing, and how you can help.