Europe is in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in decades, with over four million Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war and many coming to Europe for shelter.
Countries have been taking a differing approach to the crisis — Germany has been praised for welcoming refugees while Hungary is getting slammed for its handling of the influx of people.
The Dutch have been among the most welcoming in Europe, with public projects to support refugees, and now three Netherlands-based entrepreneurs have set up an “Airbnb for refugees.”
Germaine Statia, 23, Jamal Oulel, 25, and Ayoub Aouragh, 24, have set up Refugeehero.com, a website that lets people advertise spare rooms for refugees to stay in.
“We want to give back humanity to mankind,” says Germaine Statia in a statement sent to Business Insider.
The website is not for profit, social startup. Refugeehero.com plans to get funding from municipalities in the Netherlands. Jamal Oulel says: “Government institutions in the Netherlands alone spent €495 million in 2014 to accommodate refugees.”
The website operates pretty much like Airbnb. People, called “heroes”, offer up spare rooms in their homes for refugees to temporarily stay in:
The mobile-friendly website includes private residential listings, as well as organisations opening up their facilities, such as churches, mosques, schools and universities.
Refugees can check where is available, when, and who has space:
The three founders say they hope Refugee Hero will become much more than just a platform for refugees to find shelter on.
“We want the heroes to help the refugees find their way in a new, strange country,” says Ayoub Aouragh.
“This means Refugee Hero will grow to become a platform facilitating all important aspects linked to migration. This varies from helping refugees find a new school for their children or even arranging social security and applying for a passport.”
Volunteers recently set up a similar “Airbnb for refugees”-style website in Germany.
Britain is accepting a small proportion of refugees compared to many other countries in the European Union and, according to a September YouGov poll, only one in 10 Britons would accept a refugee into their home.
The US and Australia said last week that they would accept more tens of thousands more refugees.
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