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Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, tech companies and refugee support initiatives have stepped up to support Ukrainians both at home and abroad. One such initiative, Airalo, a US-based eSIM company, ensures that refugees and their families stay connected wherever they are in the world.

Airalo launched a Help Ukraine Connect fund in early March, with the aim of providing Ukrainian Airalo users with free data connectivity during the conflict.

“Ukraine was home to a thriving technology ecosystem, comprising over 250,000 software developers and its employees were responsible for technology products that became household names. We also have valuable members of the Ukraine team at Airalo,” said Abraham Burak and Bahadir Ozdemir, the founders of Airalo, DW said in a statement.

“So far, we have raised thousands of dollars around the world so that those affected by this terrible event can stay in touch with their families in their new country,” they added.

“However, we really hope to do more due to the large number of people who have been forced from their homes. The more donations we can collect, the more refugees we can connect.”

Airalo’s Bahadir Ozdemir hopes the Help Ukraine Connect fund will be a valuable contribution to keeping Ukrainians connected to the internet

Money donation is credited to the accounts of Ukrainian Airalo users who wish to access the fund, allowing them to purchase an eSIM.

The Airalo service, which offers an eSIM for the Internet without a phone number, offers free SIM cards with the Internet in any country in the world for Ukrainians.

The company promises to replenish the accounts of Ukrainians with $10 (€8.75) to use the Internet in any country. Users only need to install the app and register to receive the $10.

Burak and Ozdemir say their mission is to “create the gateway to instant travel connectivity around the world…eSIMs enable a seamless and seamless solution where people no longer need legacy roaming systems or physical SIM cards”.

Man using internet on his smartphone

Airalo raised thousands of dollars to help keep communication in Ukraine open

Global Players

Free SIM cards for Ukrainians are also offered by one of Germany’s largest mobile operators, Deutsche Telekom, under the T-Mobile brand. These SIM cards are available in all brand communication stores. The card allows the user to receive free unlimited calls and mobile internet. The company has also promised to supply a large number of SIM cards to refugee reception centers in the country’s biggest cities.

Mobile operators Proximus and Orange (Belgium), Vodafone (UK), Telecom Italia (Italy), Telefonica (Spain) and Vivacom (Bulgaria) offer free calls to Ukrainian refugees.

Skype allows you to call Ukrainian numbers abroad for free. Viber Messenger offers 60 minutes of free calls through the Viber Out service. Zoom has opened premium access to Ukrainians. Slack is free for three months.

Airalo's Abraham Burak

Airalo’s Abraham Burak hopes for a steady stream of donations to keep the free service alive

Ukrainian operators also in

Ukrainian mobile operators have also introduced free roaming abroad for Ukrainians forced to leave their homes.

For example, the Kyivstar operator announced that subscribers traveling abroad or already there will receive a free bonus of 250 hryvnias ($8.50, €7.50) for roaming communications. They can be used for 30 days in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

Megabytes are not deducted from roaming Kyivstar subscribers in 10 mobile applications, either when texting or calling, including in Viber, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and WhatsApp messengers.

Edited by: Hardy Graupner