Citizens hosting refugees in Air B&B style: a new challenging solution?

  • 14 Maggio 2015

Mareike Geiling and Jonas Kakoschke, initiators of the project Refugees Welcome, with Bakary, from Mali, who is living with them. Credit: Refugees Welcome


A few weeks ago, many European newspapers reported the interesting story of three young Germans who started a communication project in Berlin based on the pattern of the internationally famous Air B&B, but this time with the great innovation of involving refugees. Since its beginning, the project has achieved great success. Called Refugees Welcome, it mainly helps to connect asylum seekers in Germany with persons willing to offer them a room in their flat (or house, or shared flat). The accommodation doesn’t necessarily have to be provided for free: rather, the online platform created by Golde Ebding, Mareike Geiling and Jonas Kakoschke suggests several ways to get funding, ranging from online crowdfunding to local microfinance or regular State subsidies for asylum seekers.

Could this kind of project be a solution for today’s European refugees crisis? Could it become a replicable pattern, one where European citizens host asylum seekers of totally different traditions, cultural and religious belongings and sometimes also not fully law-abiding?

Keen to know more about this unusual experience on what represents a truly hot topic for many European Countries, we interviewed Golde Ebding, initiator of the program.

When asked about the idea behind the project, Golde mentioned her support over the past few years for the “political protests” of the several undocumented migrants that cannot formally apply for asylum in Germany because of their arrival, and consequential fingerprinting, in Italy. Indeed, as for the Dublin Regulation, people seeking international protection in Europe are bound to stay and apply for asylum in their first country of arrival. However, Golde stressed how these people felt that they had “no perspectives, no opportunities in Italy, so we looked for ways for them to stay legally”, “ we realized the demand for rooms [was important] because we wanted them to do an internship”.

To clarify, Refugees Welcome not only helps undocumented migrants but also people that have legally applied for asylum in Germany. However, the problem raised by the young professional proves to be a soaring one in today’s Europe: many migrants arriving on the Italian seashores aim at starting a new life in a Northern Country, but once they get there (often through perilous journeys set by smugglers) they are not allowed to stay and thus are forced to get by, by living from hand to mouth and usually in unsafe conditions.

Refugees Welcome (or Flüchtlinge Willkommen, in its original name) calls itself, then, as a great challenge within the asylum seekers issue in Europe. By now, the platform has received more than 400 applications to provide a refugee with a room, coming from people of different status – students and young workers living in shared flats, families, young women with children, etc. The initiators of the project are working to extend the service to other European Countries (in her interview, Golde also mentioned Italy) that for now is only active in Germany and Austria.

We will keep you up-to-date on the progress of this innovative endeavor.

1 Comment
  • Milan on 15 Febbraio 2016

    The asylum laws in the west have been perrevted by the left to the point that just about the only people who can’t get asylum are the ones who need it. And the ones who do get it are people who should be in the pen.

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