This week, the Syrian Civil War enters its fifth year. The conflict has forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes to escape the persecution and violence that has engulfed their country, sparking the greatest humanitarian outcry since the second World War. Since then, 4.6 million Syrians have become refugees and 6.6 million have been displaced from their homes within the country. Half of these numbers are children. This unprecedented crisis has garnered international attention, but still, there is no end in sight for the ongoing diaspora and tragic loss of life.
Google has released global search trends from the last five years that reveal which countries have queried into the conflict the most, as well as the questions they’re asking. The near omniscience of Google and the role the search engine plays in 21st century daily life allows for novel insights into the way the international community is researching and educating itself about the conflict.
With the aggregated information from Google, it is possible to see how a huge portion of the world’s population has researched the conflict since its beginning. "Where is Syria?” is ranked as number five on the list, showing that many people in the world still have difficulty finding Syria’s place on the world stage. The inquiries into the who, why, how, and when of Syria’s civil war also demonstrate the rest of the world’s wish to remedy their ignorance regarding the mechanics of the war.
With countries like the U.S. and Germany conspicuously absent from this list, it begs the question: what do the citizens of the richest and most powerful countries really understand about Syria and the situation its citizens are in? According to the UN, Egypt (#8) has accepted almost 130,000 Syrian refugees.
Curiously, more people in Spain have used to Google to inform themselves about the war in Syria than did people in the UK or Greece. Greece currently has approximately 1,000 refugees coming ashore every day
, while the UK recently allowed its first 1,000 refugees with the promise that it will accept 20,000 over the next five years.
According to UNHCR
, one in every 122 people on the planet are somehow displaced or seeking asylum. If a new country was created to house all of them, it would be the 24th most populous country in the world. With the conflicts of the world dislodging more people every day, and the UN critically underfunded, more awareness needs to be raised to help stem the tide of the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of our time.