Facebook and YouTube used for World Refugee Day awareness

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To mark National Refugee Day, UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, has launched a vigorous online campaign in what it hopes will galvanise the online community into action, raising funds and spreading awareness for the plight of refugees worldwide.

A new tool in the UNHCR’s arsenal comes in the form of a Facebook application, launched yesterday, which the organisation says already counts over 80 million users. The application, as well as providing links to information about the challenges faced by some 11 million refugees worldwide and 26 million internally displaced refugees, also lets the user raise and donate money for the cause. For example, simply by downloading the application, 10 cents is automatically donated to UNHCR’s fund.

Another $1 is donated by a UNHCR partner if the app user uploads a picture of themselves holding their hands over their heads in an imitation of the agency's "protecting hands" logo. Simple as that.

Sylvie Says: Put your hands on your head

The app also promises to send more money the refugees' way if users manage to recruit friends and family to the cause.

Claudia Gisiger-Gonzalez, senior external relations officer at the agency noted that the online effort was "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".

As well as hosting its own Website devoted to World Refugee Day, UNHCR has also been busy making use of a plethora of other popular social networking sites, including MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Deli.cio.us and Reddit.

And then of course, there’s also YouTube, with the UNHCR posting videos of i ts stunning Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, and also Chicago Bulls basketball star Luol Deng making their plea for better treatment and safer conditions for those the world so often forgets.

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