Open source to help Ukrainian asylum seekers

11 May 2022

Author: Giulia Guadagnoli

This article was originally published on OSOR, the European Open Source Observatory, to which OFE is a regular contributor.

Based on open technologies, this initiative aims to support the people in Ukraine by providing timely information on border crossings, missile alerts, missing person reporting, accommodation and medical assistance.

In the wake of the start of the war in Ukraine, an international team of volunteers joined forces to launch a new website aiming to support Ukrainian citizens. Overall, the project has the main goal to facilitate the fleeing of people from Ukraine trying to seek refuge in a neighbouring country.

On, which is the result of such an international cooperation based on open source technologies, asylum seekers can find several practical information that would assist the flight from Ukraine. Notably, an up to date list of curfew times across the country is provided on the home page, alongside other useful resources.

One of the main tools at users’ disposal is the border crossings portal. It offers the Ukrainian people timely information related to a diverse set of countries, such as Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Built on Open Street Map, all the information available go hand-in-hand with an interactive and up to date map to show different routes to take in order to cross the border with additional information regarding car delays and recommended time.


Source: Ukraine Safety, How to cross the border, 2022.

Additionally, the website provides a link to Telegram channels for live notifications of incoming missile and air alerts across Ukraine, all offered in multiple languages. Prompt updates can also be found on several social media platforms, managed by the same group of developers. Moreover, the website allows for a direct link with the International Commission on Missing Persons, which aims to streamline the reporting of missing persons.

Finally, the team offers further information on general and legal help as well as logistics, ranging from accommodation to medical assistance and political analyses of the current situation. 

“We all came together because we wanted to help the people of Ukraine. Most of us were simply scrolling through Reddit, wishing there was something we could do, when we came across a link for this group called ‘TechFor_’ (as in TechForUkraine). Personally, I knew I could not leave my family and fly over to Ukraine, but I also knew that I needed to do something. TechFor – Ukraine became the vehicle by which we all could contribute. As a group, we strive to simply help those in need, with providing whatever information we can to help. That information includes missile alerts, border crossing information, and other helpful resources to help people navigate their way to safety. The website gets about 1,100 hits a day by people looking for accurate information on how to cross the border safely. We do not do any work on the offensive side, we are not trying to take down Russian websites or anything like that, but rather, our place is in helping those in need”, said Kelan Larkin, Senior Software Engineer working on the project, to the OSOR Team.

More information is available on Github.