In February 2022, Vira taught Ukrainian language and literature at a local school and lived with her family in Kyiv. When the war started, Vira and her family had to leave their home in search of safety – first elsewhere in Ukraine, and then in Spain. Vira’s story is not unique – more than 7 million displaced people have left Ukraine since February 2022, according to the UNHCR.
Throughout the war, we’ve been committed to doing all we can to help. Through Google.org and our employees, we have committed over $40 million in cash donations, plus $5 million of in-kind support for humanitarian relief efforts, and three Google.org Fellowships. Across all our platforms, our teams have been working around the clock to support those affected, provide trustworthy information and promote cybersecurity.
Helping global refugees access critical information faster
For a person who has fled their home, access to information can be as important as water, food, medicine or shelter. It can save lives and livelihoods. But finding authoritative information and trusted services can be challenging and time-consuming.
Back in the summer of 2015, when thousands of refugees poured into the Greek islands in hope of refuge in Western Europe, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Mercy Corps worked alongside Google engineers to provide new arrivals with a trustworthy source of critical information. The team realised that those who flee their homes in times of need often bought a smartphone with them as one of few personal items – so they created the Signpost Project: a global technology platform that aims to provide critical information services to people affected by crisis and conflict.
When the war in Ukraine started, the IRC partnered with the United for Ukraine Association to build out unitedforukraine.org, an information website and civil society effort. The latest instance of The Signpost Project, unitedforukraine.org spans a network of 400 legal experts and psychological support professionals from more than 30 countries, and provides displaced people with critical information and support to find housing, legal aid and psychological help.
To support this work, Google provided the IRC with a $1.5 million grant along with a team of 15 Google.org Fellows to work full time and pro-bono for six months on the project.
In the six months since the war in Ukraine started, United for Ukraine has reached more than 210,000 unique visitors and helped 10,000 people access free temporary housing in collaboration with airbnb.org. Among those 10,000 people is Vira. Having secured a job in Torrevieja, Spain, Vira urgently needed accommodation, but didn’t know anyone local or have a way to rent an apartment. She reached out to United for Ukraine, who immediately offered her three temporary housing options to choose from. Vira chose a cosy apartment two minutes walk from her new job.