Airbnb hosts in Ukraine are receiving bookings for rentals. Guests have no intention of staying – they say they just want to get money into the hands of locals.
As Russia's invasion shows no signs of stopping despite heavy economic sanctions imposed by the EU, companies ranging from Oracle to Apple suspending business in the country, bans on travel, and the seizure of assets belonging to oligarchs, Airbnb users have come up with a grassroots movement to help those on the ground.
Across social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok -- as highlighted by Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky -- Airbnb customers are sharing screenshots of bookings they have made but have no intention of using.
Airbnb has confirmed that the company has suspended "all guest and host fees on all bookings in Ukraine at this time."
The chief executive of the room booking platform also said on March 4 that "all operations" in Russia and Belarus will be suspended.
When attempting to make a test booking in both countries, Airbnb's page said the "listing's calendar is blocked and they aren't accepting bookings right now."
Separately, Airbnb is working with hosts to provide free living accommodation for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, with rooms funded by Airbnb, Airbnb.org donors, and hosts themselves. Airbnb says it has assisted in providing temporary housing to over 54,000 refugees in the past five years, connected to conflicts in areas including Syria, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.
At the time of writing, the United Nations (UN) estimates that over one million residents have fled Ukraine, the majority of which have crossed the border into Poland. Neighboring countries including Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania have also accepted refugees.
It should be noted, however, that scammers and fraudsters will seek every opportunity they can to cash in, and they may try to use the Airbnb booking campaign and its good intentions to their advantage.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has provided online resources for refugees and there are more traditional methods to assist, with organizations including the Red Cross appealing for donations.
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