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Berlin supports Ukraine: How to help refugees

From donations to volunteering, here's how Berliners can help the 10,000 refugees arriving from Ukraine each day.

Refugees from Ukraine arrive by train from Poland at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Photo: IMAGO / Jochen Eckel

With around 10,000 Ukrainian refugees currently arriving in Berlin each day, the city has launched an impressive voluntary response. Armies of Berliners in yellow and orange waistcoats welcome dazed arrivals at Hauptbahnhof, offering water, snacks, clothes, toys and pet food for the hundreds of people disembarking each train. Donations are collected, benefit events are held, spare rooms are offered, meals are cooked and shuttle services for refugees are organised. These services offer at least some practical help to those suffering unthinkable trauma and extreme exhaustion.

Want to get involved? We’ve brought together initiatives that help those affected by the war in Ukraine in which Berliners, among others, can get involved.

Donate to Moabit Hilft

Since 2013, the citizens’ initiative Moabit Hilft has been committed to the protection of persecuted people and refugees. Due to the situation in Ukraine, the association receives many calls for help and you can support them with donations. To ensure that nothing unusable is donated, they provide a list. You can deliver the donations personally on site – there is no pick-up service. And please always ask yourself whether your donations are useful and whether people really need them.

  • Moabit Hilft e.V Turmstraße 21, Mon-Fri 10-16, more information here.

ukrainehelpberlin: Accommodation, donation lists, volunteering

To help the many refugees from Ukraine, volunteers and donations are needed. Photo: Imago/Jens Schicke

On ukrainehelpberlin you’ll find a variety of ways to get involved, whether from a distance via donations or directly via trips from Poland to Germany and/or accommodation offers. Demonstrations around the world are also listed. A great resource for people wanting to help those suffering in Ukraine as well as those fleeing the violence. You can also register to volunteer at Hauptbahnhof and other Berlin stations here.

  • You can get involved here.

SOS-Kinderdorf Ukraine

In the face of the current crisis, SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine is more committed than ever to helping young people in need. The aim is to care for and evacuate institutionalised children from state-run homes, foster families and internally displaced persons. For this purpose, the organisation started an emergency programme in which it accompanies refugees to the Polish-Ukrainian border, among other places, where they are housed in the aid programmes of SOS Children’s Villages Poland. However, the work on the ground is resource-intensive, which is why there is a great need for support. Accordingly, there is an appeal for donations.

  • You can donate here.

Pilecki Institute, Razam e.V. and organisations of the Ukrainian diaspora collect donations

The Pilecki Institute – a research centre dealing with the consequences of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century – has joined forces with the Razam association and organisations of the Ukrainian diaspora to collect relief supplies for people in Ukraine. Needed are hygiene articles, warm clothing, bedding, sleeping bags, long-life food, first aid kits and power banks.

  • Fundraiser Pilecki-Institut Pariser Platz 4A, Mitte, daily 10-18, more info here.

Opportunities for volunteer drivers

Drivers are needed to ensure that refugees from Ukraine cross the border quickly and safely. Photo: Imago/NurPhoto

To make it easier for refugees from Ukraine to cross the border, they need means of transport. The Facebook group ‘Volunteer Drivers for Refugees’ regularly publishes calls for volunteer drivers. You can register there and, after making contact, set off. This is an enormous help, especially in view of the unclear situation. Drivers can also get involved with Taxiservice for Peace.

Sage Restaurant fundraiser

Berlin’s Sage Restaurant is also collecting donations. On its tables, usually covered with filled plates, the employees stack boxes with nappies, batteries and torches, among other things. Since there have already been many donations, Berliners are asked to take care not to bring anything that is not needed on collection days. The restaurant regularly outlines on Facebook exactly what is needed. The donations go to various destinations, such as Kiev, Warsaw and various border towns.

  • Sage Restaurant Köpenicker Straße 18-20, Kreuzberg, tel. 030/755 49 40 71, for dates and more information click here.

Donations for ‘K41’, a Ukrainian cultural institution

Known as the Berghain of Ukraine, the Kyiv club ‘K41’ has become a symbolic counter to militarism and imperialism. For the past two years, the club team has been working to build a safe space for queer people and refugees, a place where music, art and culture would distract from the looming war. Since Russia launched its attack, ‘K41’ has become especially important. The club organises transport, helps refugees find jobs, and provides psychological care. For this, they also need financial resources. Donations can help here.

  • You can donate here.

Chabad Berlin: Help for Ukrainian Jews and Jewish women

The Jewish educational centre Chabad Lubavitch Berlin takes care of the accommodation of Jews who have fled Ukraine. It’s also in close contact with Jewish communities in many Ukrainian cities. They need support in the form of medicine, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, baby food. Chabad is helping out here and has started a fundraising campaign. You can transfer money to the following account:

Donation account: Chabad Lubawitsch Berlin e.V.

Deutsche Bank

IBAN: DE47100700240505559501


Payment reference: UKRAINE

Free rides for Ukrainian refugees

Deutsche Bahn is offering refugees from Ukraine free entry to Germany. Those affected can choose freely between the trains and need only have Ukrainian identity documents ready. If they want to continue their journey after arriving in Germany, they can also use the ‘helpukraine’ ticket. The free ticket is available at all DB travel centres. The BVG is also showing solidarity by letting people with Ukrainian identity documents travel for free on all buses and trains. The campaign will last at least until March 31.

Book seats for Ukrainians on Bassliner buses

Normally a party bus company, Bassliner chauffeurs party animals to festivals like Fusion. To help people in Ukraine, there is now also the possibility to book seats for refugees. Here’s how it works: a person picks a day and a trip from Krakow or Warsaw, specifies how many tickets they want to buy and books them. The seats are reserved accordingly and can in turn be used by the Ukrainian refugees in Poland. They are then brought safely to Germany. The trips take place daily.

You can get involved here.

Rent Airbnb flats in Ukraine

Perhaps rather unusual as a donation option, but people around the world have been booking Airbnb flats in Ukraine – with no intention of using them. Local hosts will receive a welcome financial boost. In just two days, around 60,000 nights were booked when the initiative took off – the equivalent of just over 1.9 million dollars. It’s a simple way to support people directly. It’s worth noting, however, that three percent of the amounts paid go directly to Airbnb. The company is also providing accommodation in neighbouring countries for up to 100,000 refugees, but it’s unclear whether money still flows into its own pocket as part of the ghost bookings. Nevertheless, it remains a pleasingly immediate way to support people in the most vulnerable areas.

  • You can rent accommodation here.

Albatros: Accommodation for refugees from Ukraine

Albatros GmbH has been taking care of refugees from many countries since 2015, on a logistical and psychosocial level. Across the six facilities in Berlin, people can not only find shelter, but also receive psychological care. In order to build additional shelters for people from Ukraine, Albatros is currently looking for volunteers, such as social workers, housekeepers, job coaches and educators.

You can find more information here.

Be an Angel: Donations for refugees

Consisting of media and cultural professionals as well as a number of marketing bigwigs, the Berlin initiative ‘Be an Angel’ is a network dedicated to people with a history of flight. The goal is to enable integration, but also to enable people to flee from crisis areas. Currently, those involved are evacuating people from Ukraine who are stranded in Moldova. In addition, they see to it that the refugees are accommodated in Berlin. For this, the initiative is dependent on money, which is why they are diligently collecting donations.

You can donate here.

Sleeping places offered by elinor and Wunderflats

There are ways people can offer refugees from Ukraine a place to sleep. Photo: Imago/Rolf Kremming

Originally a platform for collectives, the company elinor has now set up a site where you can offer sleeping places to refugees from Ukraine. The more people who contribute, the better the chances that those fleeing the violence will get a warm and safe place to stay. Alternatively, you can also use Wunderflats. There are also Google documents where you can register if you have free sleeping places. Also especially for queer people and people of colour.

Information portal of the Berlin Senate

After the establishment of a crisis team, the Berlin Senate has now set up an information portal for refugees and helpers. In Russian, Ukrainian, English and German, they can find information about accommodation, the legal situation and also Corona tests.

You can find the portal here.

Netzwerk Berlin Hilft for legal information

If you have family, friends or acquaintances in Ukraine, but you don’t know what the legal situation is regarding the right of residence in Germany, the Berlin Hilft network has all the answers you need. The platform bundles all the necessary legal information, including information on social benefits. Important information on leaving Ukraine and the current situation is also available.

  • You can find the platform here.

The crisis chat: Psychologists can get involved here

Der Krisenchat (Crisis Chat) is a psychosocial counselling service for children, young people and adults. Professional counsellors with a background in social education, psychology or psychotherapy are available there all day. In view of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Crisis Chat is currently looking for Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking psychologists to provide therapeutic care for Ukrainian children.

The HellMa women’s meeting place as a point of information and support

The HellMa women’s meeting place actually advises women on social issues. Currently, however, it serves as an information and support point for refugees from Ukraine. A special focus is on psychological support, for which translators, psychologists and trauma therapists are needed. If you have the necessary expertise, you can contact them.

  • Frauentreff HellMa Marzahner Promenade 41, Marzahn, Tel. 0176/45 80 72 85, further information here.

Leisure activities at the Kreativhaus

Since hard times require lots of distraction, the Kreativhaus on Fischerinsel sets up a leisure programme for refugees. The aim is to make their arrival as pleasant as possible. Sports and handicraft materials, many rooms, a circus tent and a playground are available for this purpose. Volunteers with concrete ideas for activities are still being sought.

  • Leisure activities at Kreativhaus Fischerinsel 3, Mitte, more info here.

Original article by Tim Kröplin for tipBerlin.