‘I cry with happiness’: People are booking Airbnb rentals in Ukraine to funnel money to Ukrainians

March 4, 2022, 12:54 PM UTC

People looking to help Ukrainians from afar have been booking empty Airbnb rentals in Ukraine’s hardest hit areas, as a way to quickly send cash to the country under siege from Russian forces.

In Irpin, a city located just west of Kyiv, Ukrainian military have been fighting back against Russian forces attempting to enter Ukraine’s capital city. As the city descends into gunfire and chaos, the few apartments available to rent on Airbnb have been snapped up by people trying to help the war effort.

After one person booked an Airbnb apartment in the city with little intention of staying, the host responded, “Hope we will win and stop this horror. Irpin town, where the apartment is located, is a hot point last 3 days. Our soliders stopped three waves of Russian tanks moving to Kviv in Irpin. And this is our glory.”

He added he promised to use the donation for charity and use the apartment to house people who have lost their homes in the war. This is what some of the streets of Irpin look like now.

Across Twitter, people have been posting their conversations with Airbnb hosts, who have expressed gratitude for the donations to help the country.

In response, Airbnb waived the guest and host fees on bookings so the rental fees go directly to the Ukrainian hosts. “We are so humbled by the inspiring generosity of our community during this moment of crisis. Airbnb is temporarily waiving guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine at this time,” the vacation rental app said in a statement to Fortune.

However, as a warning, some on Twitter have been quick to note that Russian scammers may try to set up fake listings in Ukraine to “cash in on noble intentions,” and warned users to check the reviews before trying to help.

Sanctioning Russia

Separately, Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky announced in a tweet Thursday morning that it would be suspending its operations in Russia and Belarus to sanction the country following its invasion of Ukraine.

As Russia’s invasion prompts the exodus of more than a million people from Ukraine, Airbnb has also volunteered up to 100,000 homes to house Ukrainian refugees, which could reach as many as 4 million people, according to the United Nations. Airbnb has also already reached out to 14 governments to collaborate on the project.

According to Airbnb, more than 357,000 visitors have visited the site to donate or become a host for refugees, noting the response to the effort has been “overwhelming.”

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