A well-known gay dating app says it was blown away by its users’ response to the plight of Ukrainians fleeing their country. It is estimated that around 1 million people left the country after the Russian military invasion.
The social media site and app ROMEO (formerly known as Planet Romeo) was launched in Germany around 20 years ago. It has 3 million members worldwide, but is especially popular in parts of Eastern Europe and the Baltics.
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Apart from the regular profiles common to these apps, it also allows users to join a large number of forum groups. Earlier this week, he launched a group called “Shelter for Ukraine”. The group is to “connect those who can offer shelter and assistance”.
Users immediately started signing up and offering their spare rooms or houses.
The group now has over 8,000 members after just four days, with hundreds of offers to help.
“We live in Prague and can offer accommodation in our small guest room with one bed (140×200 for one person or couple),” was a typical entry.
“I can host in Italy near Pisa (Tuscany) one or two people,” said an Italian. “I currently live in the countryside. I can travel and pick you up as far as the Italian border.”
“I offer accommodation for the one or ones you urgently need. Whether male or female, up to 2 people,” another person said. “Would also provide shelter or refuge to Russian soldiers who oppose the war and/or flee Putin’s government as a result.”
We print more examples below, but have masked user identities.
A ROMEO spokesperson said Weird why he created the group “Shelter for Ukraine”.
“When we heard the news of the invasion of Ukraine, like many, we wanted to do something to help. We are an international team, with people from all over the world. Many of us have known war and oppression. Connecting people is what we do, so we looked at how we could use the platform to connect people in need, with our users who are ready to help. »
Related: LGBTQ activists demonstrate in support of Ukraine at Stonewall Inn
A few people online have pointed out that Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are currently not allowed to leave Ukraine and are forced to stay and fight. The spokesperson acknowledged that was the case, but said the call was not just about helping men.
“We understand that some men got away with it, but many are still here. Some users send photos and updates. The accommodation offer is not only for men, it is for their parents, their sisters, their children.
Indeed, a user appeared yesterday to indicate that he had several people who had to show up: “Now, on the weekend, come to my house 2 women and 5 children! They can stay as long as they want! Greetings from Austria!
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been going on for a week and the death toll is mounting. Hundreds of civilians have now been killed.
Last night, Russian forces fought to take control of a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, which briefly led to a fire, stoking fears of another potential Chernobyl-style collapse. The fire was later extinguished and Russian forces now occupy the Zaporizhzhia facility.
ROMEO isn’t the only geo-social network appealing to users for support on Ukraine. Grindr also posted a message yesterday encouraging users to support LGBTQ organizations in Ukraine.
Refugees have also found help through a network of Facebook groups, while Airbnb has also pledged short-term housing for 100,000 people through its independent nonprofit, Airbnb.org.