On March 11, 2015, Dr. Xi Li, a visiting scholar from Wuhan University in China, took part in a tele-briefing entitled, "WithSyria 4th Anniversary Campaign: Turn the Lights Back On." During this briefing - also attended by Madeleine Albright (former U.S. Secretary of State), David Miliband (former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) and Dr. Majed Abu Ali (a medical doctor from Ghouta, Syria) - Dr. Li released his research results, which were cited by WithSyria (a social movement of 130 global organizations) during its launch of a global petition to end the conflict and bring the lights back on for Syria. WithSyria released a series of satellite images showing that Syria has lost 83% of its night lights over the last four years due to civil war. More than 600 media (e.g. New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Associate Press, CNN, BBC, etc.) and NGOs (e.g. Amnesty International, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee) have cited these images in renewing their call for attention to Syrian civilians and refugees. Moreover, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is taking note - this research was included in a UN Security Council briefing on March 26th.
Dr. Li is utilizing satellite images acquired by the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite) instrument onboard the S-NPP satellite to study night light changes over Syria. "[This research] can be very different from media reports, because it gives the whole picture of the Syrian conflict," Dr. Li, told Voice of America. "I think I can [help] the Syrians," he said when asked about his motivation for this project.
Additional reading: New York Times article