Doctors of the World creates powerful ‘Journey of a Refugee’ interactive map » Charity Digital News

Doctors of the World creates powerful ‘Journey of a Refugee’ interactive map

Humanitarian aid charity Doctors of the World has collaborated with Impero – an independent creative, digital and social agency based in London and Sydney – to muster up an interactive map of the positive words and images being tweeted by the UK general public about refugees and migrants.

The charity has over 350 programmes in more than 80 countries and is providing medical care for refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan; it also has clinics in nine European countries, including Greece, France, Germany and the UK.

The map of Europe has been designed to portray the good sentiment surrounding refugees and migrants in the UK, showing all of the Tweets in real-time and locating them along the routes where thousands of migrants risk their lives every day, in hope of a better life.

Visualising empathy 

Leigh Daynes, executive director, Doctors of the World UK said:

We used to get a deluge of negative comments whenever we spoke about our work helping refugees in Calais and the Mediterranean but recently we’ve been inundated with messages of support, offers of practical help and cash donations.

A noticeable shift in attitudes came after the shocking image of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi was published.

We wanted a way to visualise this outpouring of empathy and to do this we worked with Impero to create this real-time visualisation of public sentiment. It can be quite hypnotic.”

You can see interactive map in action here.

Journey of a refugee 2

How does it work?

According to the charity, the visualisation works by using the Twitter streaming API to capture the tweets as they happen, “pushing new tweets into the browser using WebSockets (with help of and node.js).

The charity looked into the use of key words and hashtags in order to detect appropriate tweets and “sentiment tracking” to certify that they are positive.

Michael Scantlebury, creative director and founder of Impero said:

We wanted our contribution to help drive change – and by visualising the very real issues faced by refugees in combination with positive stories of support throughout Europe, the map offers an accessible way for Britons to understand the current crisis.

Partnering our creative and technical teams with the expertise of Doctors of the World has produced an awareness tool that we believe can have real impact.”


Additionally, JustGiving have created a “heat map” showing how donations to refugee causes have increased over recent weeks. You can view the map here.



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