Much of the world watches in agony as Ukrainians take cover in subway tunnels or are forced to flee the country. And, from where you sit in the US, you may be inspired to provide shelter for a Ukrainian fleeing the war – suddenly a spare room or bed seems like a lifeline easily offered.
President Biden announced Thursday that the US would accept up to 100,000 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine using a program called humanitarian parole and other mechanisms, reported the Washington Post.
However, as much as many Americans would love to reach out in such a personal way by hosting a refugee, currently it is not that likely that you'll get the chance. For one thing, Ukrainians will want to stay as close to home as possible, seeking shelter in a neighboring country on the European continent where family and support networks may be. And before Biden opened the doors, the more literal reason was that if a Ukrainian doesn’t already hold a passport and visa to enter the US, it was too late to fly here. The visa-granting embassies in Kiev and Liev are now closed.
However, if for some reason — perhaps you own property abroad — the trip works on both ends and you are able to open your home in this way, here are a few resources.
As reported in Business Insider, a 19 year old Harvard student named Avi Schiffmann worked with a friend to build a website that connects refugees with families around the world willing to take them in. (Schiffmann is also the web developer who created one of the world’s most comprehensive websites tracking the spread of the virus causing Covid-19).
At UkraineTakeShelter.com, you click a button labeled “to host refugees, click here,” and are prompted to create an account similar to an Airbnb account. Hosts do not have to list their precise location, just their nearest city and their contact information. They include information like how many people they can host, if they are kid friendly, if they can take animals, and what languages they speak. In turn, refugees do not have to input private information to be easily connected with welcoming hosts.
Another website that organizes host families is My home is your home. Click on “Start hosting now” to create an account.
For now, the best way to help is to open your wallet. According to updated figures, 3.6 million Ukrainians have fled since Russia began its attack. To help them with basic needs, a financial donation goes a long way. Check here for the Ukrainian-American communities who are facilitating aide to Eastern Europe or the global organizations currently accepting donations.