Karma Group’s founder John Spence has unveiled a new program to transform hotels into accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in an unprecedented attempt to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country.
Dubbed Karma Refuge, the campaign will be launched in France, and see Karma Résidence Normande turned into a temporary shelter for those in need.
“I’m taking my resort in Normandy and turning it into hotel accommodation for Ukrainian refugees. We have plans to populate it with people fleeing desperate conditions in Ukraine,” Spence said.
“Mainly women and children, these people have had long journeys in freezing temperatures for nine, ten hours at a time just to cross the border.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine just two weeks ago, 2.2 million people have fled the country, according to the UN, in what the organisation’s high commissioner for refugees is calling “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II”.
So far, Poland has taken the majority, allowing more than 1 million Ukrainians to seek shelter, while the others have mostly spread across Hungary, Slovakia, Russia, Romania and Moldovia.
To help the refugees gain access to Normandy, Spence said the company has a manager based in Warsaw who will be using the assistance of local agents to identify those in need.
“They will then have a fleet of coaches to get them through to France,” he said.
“Karma won’t just be somewhere to sleep, but we will also provide all food, we have full hotel staff, and all facilities free to use.
“Children will be given a range of activities, while parents will be given a chance to learn English and French, and will set up a Ukrainian kitchen.”
Spence said he plans to promote Karma Refuge and find other hoteliers who are willing to take in refugees or private individuals who would like to be part of the company’s mission to “bring people from Ukraine into a safe shelter in Europe”.