No one is visiting war-torn Ukraine right now, but Airbnb listings are being booked anyway, as part of an ad hoc aid campaign that has gone viral.
The movement appears to have stemmed from meme account @quentin.quarantino, which shared the idea on Thursday to “as a way to send immediate monetary assistance to people in hard-hit areas.” It was later shared by Airbnb co-founder and chief executive officer Brian Chesky.
“Dear Jennifer….!!!!!!! I’m just crying !!!!! I’m just crying right now !!!!! I’m shocked!!!! I am incredibly grateful for your support!!!! I have no any words!!!!” was just one of the messages from an Airbnb host shared by @quent.quarantino, adding that hundreds of people had participated in the campaign in a 24-hour span.
Airbnb said it would waive fees for the symbolic Ukraine stays.
Mila Kunis, an American actress who was born in Ukraine, and husband Ashton Kutcher announced they would match up to $3 million in donations in their own campaign aimed at raising $30 million. The GoFundMe will support Flexport.org and Airbnb, “two organizations who are actively on the ground providing immediate help to those who need it most,” the post said. The campaign has raised just over $3 million.
Flexport is organizing relief shipments to refugee sites across Poland and other countries.
also announced this week it will give free rides out of Ukraine and donate to aid groups. Across Europe, individuals have opened their homes to the approximately 1 million people who have fled the fighting in the growing humanitarian disaster.
Fighting between Ukraine and Russia, whose forces invaded the western neighbor more than a week ago intensified on Friday, leaving places such as such the port city of Mariupol without electricity, water or heat.
One Twitter user countered that, rather than book an empty Airbnb, the best way to help remained to give directly to aid organizations on the ground, such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross.