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Holland America Line’s "Volendam" is housing Ukrainians in the Netherlands.
Travel companies including Marriott Bonvoy, Airbnb, Holland America, and Uber continue to find ways to help those fleeing Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the refugee crisis associated with it, have tugged at the heartstrings of people across the world, whether they’ve visited the eastern European country or not. According to the United Nations, as of April 28, more than 5.4 million people have fled Ukraine.
We’re now more than two months into a war with no end in sight—and those refugees still need a helping hand. From the beginning, many travel companies have been supporting those who have been displaced in the best way they know how: by providing a place to stay or a ride out of harm’s way.
Here are just a handful of the many travel-related companies that continue to provide aid to those escaping the violence—along with some ways you can help, too.
The hotel group is encouraging loyalty program members to donate their points to offer aid to people in Ukraine and its neighboring countries. The two organizations Marriott Bonvoy has partnered with thus far are World Central Kitchen (providing meals and supplies) and UNICEF (getting the children of Ukraine access to safe water, nutrition, health care, education, and more). Every 2,500 points are equal to $10 cash to the organizations. The brand will match donations point-for-point for up to 100 million points.
“To date, over 46 million Marriott Bonvoy points have been donated,” the brand said in a press release on April 7, adding, “We are undertaking relief efforts of our own, including many of our hotels providing accommodations and supplies to refugees fleeing their homes. Our hotels and associates have raised over $1.7 million in cash and in-kind donations. More than 80 of our hotels in neighboring countries have signed up to provide free hotel stays for refugees through Hospitality Helps, donating over 11,000 free room nights to date.”
Airbnb’s nonprofit arm, Airbnb.org, is helping provide free temporary housing for as many as 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. To do so, it has partnered with International Organizations for Migration, HIAS, Nova Ukraine, Save the Children Sweden, and the government of Germany to pair those in need with places to stay.
As of April 20, more than 11,000 displaced people had received accommodations in Europe.
“While Airbnb.org collaborates with organizations that are supporting all refugees, regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, or how they identify, these nonprofits which with Airbnb.org is now working are specifically dedicated to assisting people from marginalized communities who are fleeing Ukraine, including African students, people with rare diseases and their families, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+,” Airbnb.org said in its latest press release.
Anyone interested in supporting Airbnb.org’s initiative can donate directly on the site or sign up to offer free or discounted stays on Airbnb.org/help-Ukraine. As of April 20, more than 28,600 people worldwide had signed up to offer their homes.
Another option that’s been popular with Airbnb users has been to book stays in Ukraine. Even if they have no intention of going, the funds still get into the hands of locals.
At the start of the war, the Netherlands committed to accommodating 50,000 people fleeing Ukraine. Some, at least temporarily, will call Holland America Line’s Volendam home. The vessel will dock in Rotterdam and will house and feed 1,500 displaced people for three months.
“We are in a unique position to accommodate the immediate need for food and housing, so we felt it was very important to work with the City of Rotterdam and charter this ship,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, in a statement. “Our company was founded in Rotterdam around the mission of helping immigrants find a better life. So today, we’re proud to be a small part of a similar mission for Ukrainians who have tragically been displaced.”
The ship was supposed to set sail for voyages in Norway, the British Isles, and Iceland on May 15 but canceled sailings until July 3 to accommodate the three-month commitment. The ship will be docked at a cargo port on the River Maas. Those aboard will have use of all facilities.
Holland America Group has also set aside $1 million for an emergency assistance fund for its own Ukrainian employees.
The ride-share company recently launched an in-app donation button to allow riders to make donations to the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization that helps those whose lives are touched by major crises to recover and rebuild. The app will match donations of up to $1 million. It also made an additional “$500,000 donation to the International Federation of Red Cross and World Food Program USA in support of the UN World Food Programme’s humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighboring countries,” Uber said in a press release.
While not technically a travel company, this nonprofit organization uses travel benefits to help refugees in need.
Miles4Migrants accepts donated miles from frequent fliers for refugees who need flights to safety. Since its inception in 2016, the company said it has redeemed more than 370 million miles and has helped more than 30,000 people travel. For the war in Ukraine, the company is booking flights for those in temporary housing in border countries to help them reach longer-term homes worldwide.
Those looking to help can donate miles from any airline on the Miles4Migrants website. The organization is also looking for donations of cash and flight vouchers, which will be used to pay for award taxes and fees.
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