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Imagery to the Crowd
About Us

Welcome to the HIU 

Humanitarian Information Unit

The U.S. Department of State's Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is an inter-agency office providing U.S. Government officials and other aid organizations with geographic data and analysis to prepare for and respond to complex humanitarian emergencies worldwide. For more information about the HIU, contact information, directions and careers consult the About Us.

MapGive and Imagery to the Crowd
We have just launched MapGive, a new initiative designed to increase the number of online mapping volunteers. This educational and outreach campaign teaches potential volunteers about why open data and humanitarian mapping are important, provides detailed instructions on how to map in OpenStreetMap, and connects them with mapping tasks that will support the provision of humanitarian assistance. Watch the "Why Map" video on the MapGive site here.

MapGive builds upon the Imagery to the Crowd (IttC) initiative in which we share commercial high resolution satellite imagery with the volunteer mapping community to produce baseline geographic data in OpenStreetMap. In November 2013, IttC was awarded a NextGov Bold Award for innovation in federal information technology.

Commercial Satellite Imagery Requests
As originally documented on, the U.S. State Department can share U.S. government (USG) purchased commercial satellite imagery with approved recipients under certain conditions and Departmental clearance on an individual case-by-case basis.   The Department’s ability to facilitate commercial imagery requests is subject to Departmental determination that it is in the interest of the USG to share the requested imagery, as well as staffing and resource constraints.

For more information, review the Commercial Satellite Imagery Requst document, available in Adobe .pdf, Microsoft Word .docx, and text .txt formats.

In Focus: Syria
Since April 2012 the HIU has published a map series entitled Number and Locations of Syrian Refugees. The complete list of these and other Syria map products can be found on our Middle East Products page.

In Focus: HIU Data Download Page
In addition to maps, we are publishing the geographic datasets used to produce these products. All datasets are available on the HIU Data Download Page. We have attempted to make all data available in commonly used formats, both proprietary and open when possible.

Geographic dataset: Large Scale International Boundary Polygons
We combined the linework from the Large Scale International Boundaries (LSIB) dataset with the World Vector Shorelines dataset to produce a GIS-ready polygon dataset that what we believe is the most detailed set of international boundaries available. Additionally, we created a second set of polygons that have been cartographically generalized, making them more useful for global scale mapping projects.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Border Crossings, released 21 October 2013.

Geographic dataset: Syria: IDP Locations, released 23 September 2013.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Refugee Camp Locations, released 21 October 2013.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Cultural Sites, released 22 May 2013.

Image Catalog: Syria Regional Crisis: Refugee Camp Image Catalog, released 28 June 2013.

 Featured Products


Democratic Republic of the Congo Presence at Mine Sites of Armed Groups & Other Entities

This map was compiled by the U.S. Department of State to submit to the Committees on Appropriations, Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means, and Financial Services of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate.

Region: Africa

Published Date: 3/3/2014

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World: Largest Refugee Source Countries

This map highlights the milestone of Syrians becoming the largest registered refugee caseload in the world as the Syrian conflict enters its fourth year in March 2014. The number of refugees fleeing Syria has now surpassed the number of refugees originating from Afghanistan.

Region: Global & Transnational Products

Published Date: 3/14/2014

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Syria: Numbers and Locations of Refugees and IDPs

Syrians fleeing conflict and violence are being internally and externally displaced. This map identifies official camp locations in Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as areas in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq where sizable concentrations of Syrians are living in urban areas. It also shows numbers of externally displaced Syrians reported in the four neighboring countries, as well as in Egypt and North Africa, and the UN’s estimate of how many people are displaced inside Syria. The graph charts quarterly cumulative numbers of Syrians in neighboring countries registered or awaiting registration for humanitarian assistance from December 2012 to March 2014. The pie chart illustrates the total cumulative numbers of Syrians in neighboring countries, as well as in Egypt and North Africa, registered or awaiting registration for humanitarian assistance. The situation is changing rapidly, and the data, based on estimates from U.S. Government, UN and NGO open source reports, is current as of March 12, 2014.

Region: Middle East

Published Date: 3/14/2014

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Syria: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to Syrian Refugees and IDPs

The U.S. government has committed over $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to support roughly 6.8 million people in need inside of Syria and over 2 million refugees in neighboring countries. The United States is the largest contributor of humanitarian assistance and coordinates through the UN to maximize the efforts of the international community.

Region: Middle East

Published Date: 2/20/2014

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2013 Syrian Regional Humanitarian Crisis in Review

This two page product is intended as a final year-in-review for the Syria Regional Humanitarian Crisis in 2013 and is comprised of four maps: 1) showing the areas and locations of IDPs n Syria and refugees in neighboring countries as of the end of 2013, 2) showing the area of conflict and selected locations of intense fighting in 2013; 3) visualization of the number of UN agencies, NGOs, and Syrian Arab Red Crescent presence by governorate inside Syria and 4) a map showing the location of selected events by month in 2013 linked to a chronology. The product also contains bar chart showing the increae of total number of refugees by quarter in 2013 and five pie charts giving the total numbers of refugee by country or region and the percentage of camp versus non-camp populations.

Region: Middle East

Published Date: 1/14/2014

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