The European refugee crisis is reaching a fever pitch this week, with train stations flooded by migrants from the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia. In response, citizens are going beyond charitable donations and are turning to social media and other novel tech methods to assist those in need. Interestingly, many of these projects actually leverage e-commerce in ways designed to help the refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and elsewhere.
In Germany, a new project called Refugees Welcome offers a sort of Airbnb for migrants, which connects refugees with vacant rooms in apartments. According to the site’s manifesto, “We are convinced that refugees should not be stigmatized and excluded by being housed in mass accommodations. Instead, we should offer them a warm welcome.” At the moment, the service works in Germany and Austria and reportedly has more than 400 applications in its queue.
Citizens also organized an Amazon wish list for refugees in Calais outside the train tunnel to England, and in Greece as well. On the Amazon page, well-wishers can buy toothpaste, ramen noodles, underwear, and other essentials for the migrants.
Facebook groups, such as this one for Syrians in Denmark play an important role in organizing legal, settled diasporas overseas to help refugees from their country of origin as well. Other Facebook groups are causing large-scale change in conditions for the migrants: An Icelandic page called Syria is Calling has connected more than 900 refugees expected to arrive in the country with host families as of press time.
According to the BBC, the number of migrants at the European Community’s borders reached a record high of 107,500 this summer. In one week alone, 21,000 migrants arrived in Greece, a country that is going through an economic crisis of its own.