Buses, Apartments and More – Here Ukrainians Get Help

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The situation in war-torn Ukraine continues to be very confusing. Air traffic is at a standstill and other connections abroad are very unreliable in some cases. However, there are still ways to get out of the country – or at least from the border to the West. In addition, more and more platforms are enabling targeted aid for Ukrainian refugees.

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Almost a week after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the situation is not calming down. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people who want to or have to leave the country – especially since air traffic is still paralysed and regular connections are sometimes overloaded. In the meantime, however, there are alternative ways to get to the West. And some of these are even free of charge for Ukrainian citizens.

Bus connections are still available

Thanks to their flexibility, buses are, next to cars, the safest way to get from Ukraine across the border of one of the neighbouring countries. Furthermore, we at CheckMyBus offer you an overview of the most important connections from Ukraine to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, but also towards Germany or the Czech Republic.

Important: The situation changes rapidly, and you should always double-check with the respective bus provider whether the connection is available and can still be booked! Time and again there are reports that buses are overbooked.

Free of charge with Helpbus and FlixBus to Germany

For all Ukrainians who have already arrived in Poland, Pinkbus offers a free passage to Germany. With the Helpbus initiative, the Cologne-based bus company drives its buses to border locations in Poland and takes interested people on to selected German cities. Booking is uncomplicated; all you have to do is register with Helpbus by phone. The initiative has set up a special website for this purpose – there you can simply reserve a seat on one of the buses using the call button. 

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FlixBus is also trying to help the Ukrainian refugees in an uncomplicated way and, above all, free of charge. Thus, the company’s buses from the Polish border cities of Przemyśl and Rzeszów can be used towards Germany at no further cost. Those interested can reserve their seat at the FlixBus counters at the bus stations in the two cities, via e-mail or the company-chat on the FlixBus-website. However, due to the unclear and dangerous situation, FlixBus has discontinued its regular connections from Ukraine.

Furthermore, refugees from Ukraine will be able to use the buses of the Italian bus provider Itabus free of charge in the future. This will enable people from the war-torn country to travel through Europe without any major problems. Interested parties only have to present their ID at the Itabus counter in the respective bus station and will then be given a seat for the connections of their choice, depending on availability.

The Austrian carrier Blaguss, on the other hand, runs special buses directly to Vyšné Nemecké on the Slovak-Ukrainian border. Ukrainians then use these buses to travel on to Europe, especially to Austria. The bus company Schielein Reisen also travels to the Polish-Ukrainian border. The small operator from Nuremberg transports refugees from Polish border towns directly to Germany, but also brings humanitarian aid supplies to the people on the ground in cooperation with local freight forwarders. Up-to-date information on the special trips can be found on the company’s Facebook page.

Train connections from the border to the west

In fact, there are still train connections to Ukraine and back. Refugees can use all connections that take them to the West free of charge. This mainly concerns Deutsche Bahn trains – Ukrainians can use all six existing connections between Poland and Germany at no extra charge. The regular trains run from Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow and Przemyśl on the border via the Frankfurt an der Oder border crossing into the Federal Republic of Germany. According to Deutsche Bahn, however, special trains will be set up soon to reinforce the existing lines. DB is supported in this by, among others, the Polish railroad PKP, which has also increased its overall traffic to the Ukrainian border and offers Ukrainians free travel on its trains.

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A similar service is also offered by Czech Railways. Since the first weekend of the war, special trains carrying humanitarian aid and Ukrainians who have to return home because of the general mobilisation have been running to the Polish border town of Przemyśl and on across the border into Ukraine. On the way back, the trains then pick up people who want to leave the country and bring them to Bohumín in the Czech Republic. According to Czech Railways, Ukrainians can use any of the company’s trains without a ticket or reservation until further notice. The departure time of the special trains to the Polish-Ukrainian border is always published shortly beforehand.

Also from the Czech Republic, RegioJet sends daily night trains from Prague via Przemyśl to Lviv. On the outward journey, the company transports humanitarian aid supplies as well as aid workers to the Polish-Ukrainian border and Ukraine; on the return trip, the special trains then take refugees back to the Czech capital. Reservations are not necessary, but priority is given to women and children.

Other European rail companies are also getting involved to help Ukrainians flee to Europe. ÖBB has set up an information portal to help people on their way to the West. The most important Austrian rail carrier has also provided numerous wagons for its partner companies in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to better handle the increased traffic from the border.

Where can Ukrainians find safe accommodation?

After arriving in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic or the other countries, the question for many Ukrainians is where to find safe accommodation. Numerous initiatives want to find refugees a roof over their heads, mostly also in private flats. Many of these “accommodation exchanges” can be found in social networks, especially on Facebook; one of the largest, for example, is Accommodation, Help & Shelter for Ukraine. But many cities and municipalities have also started their own placement platforms.

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But companies also want to help the refugees from Ukraine. Airbnb, for example, has announced its intention to provide short-term accommodation for around 100,000 people seeking protection from Ukraine. According to the provider of holiday accommodation, they are already negotiating with the responsible authorities in Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania about an uncomplicated handling of the project.

In addition, the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW) wants to make it as easy as possible for Ukrainian refugees to find housing, at least in Germany. The association has therefore put an information platform online. There you will find all the important links to online housing exchanges and assistance initiatives, as well as other important information for Ukrainians who have just arrived in Germany.

How can I help Ukrainian refugees?

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, all of Europe has shown solidarity and tried to support the refugees from Ukraine wherever possible. But how do you help specifically and exactly where it is needed? In the meantime, there are numerous online platforms and initiatives in the most important arrival countries that make helping efficient. Of course, the Ukrainian refugees themselves can also use these platforms to take advantage of a wide variety of offers – from medical treatment and housing to passage from the border to other cities in Europe.

So far, eastern EU countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic have taken in the most refugees from Ukraine. Helpers have launched various online platforms where people can easily advertise their services for those seeking protection. In Poland, for example, this is the website Pomoc UA, while in the Czech Republic it is Kde mohu pomci. There, Ukrainians can find everything they need, from rides to medical-psychological care to accommodation with a helpful Czech or Pole.

There are comparable projects in Germany. Among other things, anyone can offer donations, translation services and much more on the HelpTo website. And the neighborhood platform nebenan also offers an overview of all the aid services for refugees.

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