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Website of the Week — ReliefWeb


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. This time it's is an example of how the power of the Internet can be harnessed to bring together resources and share information in the face of natural disasters and other emergencies.

LEIFSDOTTIR: "ReliefWeb is a website for providing timely and reliable information during crises to improve response and minimize human suffering."

Helga Leifsdottir is coordinator of ReliefWeb.int, which is run by the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, known as OCHA. When there's a need for coordinated international response — an earthquake, perhaps, or drought — help can come from national governments, U.N. agencies, NGOs and private donors. Without coordination, good intentions may be squandered. Providing that coordination has been the aim of Reliefweb.Int since it began 10 years ago.

LEIFSDOTTIR: "The overarching aim was to try to have a one-stop shop, where those who are working in this context of humanitarian assistance, would be able to go into one site and know what everyone was doing."

Although ReliefWeb is designed for those working in the humanitarian community, you don't have to be an aid worker to use it. In fact, at times of crisis, it provides current information from a broad range of on-the-ground sources that’s hard to find elsewhere.

LEIFSDOTTIR: "We are a broker of information from all of the sources, being it international or local NGOs, academia, international organizations, governments, etc., and of course the U.N. agencies. And we try to select carefully -from all sides- information on that particular emergency."

For example, take last month's deadly earthquake in Indonesia. Like many other disasters, it's been pushed out of the news by more recent developments, but you can still get daily updates from the Indonesian government, reports of the ongoing relief efforts in the region, maps and satellite images, detailed information about which governmental and non-governmental groups are helping, and so on. It's a real in-depth look at a crisis with a different perspective than you get in newspaper or broadcast reports.

That's typical of what's available on the U.N. website, ReliefWeb.Int, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.

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