How Strangers Are Trying To Help Brussels Victims
In the wake of Tuesday morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, in which at least 34 people were killed and 106 injured, Twitter users are tweeting the hashtag #Ikwilhelpen, or “I want to help” to offer transportation and shelter to those affected by the attacks. The hashtag expresses support and solidarity, as well as material assistance for people in Brussels and all over Europe whom the attacks have left stranded.
Two bombs exploded at Zaventem Airport this morning at 07:00 GMT, and an hour later, another exploded at the Maalbeek metro station. In the hours since, Brussels’s airport and public transit system have been shut down, leaving many people both in and outside of the city in need of rides and/or places to stay. Twitter users in Brussels and a variety of other European cities have stepped in to offer help to people stranded in Brussels, as well as to Belgians who are stuck in other cities and unable to travel home.
The #Ikwilhelpen hashtag hearkens back to #PortOuverte (or “Open Door”), the hashtag that many used to offer aid to victims of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last November. Today, Twitter users are using #PortOuverte in addition to #Ikwilhelpen to similarly offer shelter, support, and safety to those who need it.
The New York Times points out that social media has become an important mode of communication following the attacks, with Belgian minister for telecommunications Alexander De Croo urging people to limit their use of mobile phones to avoid oversaturating phone networks.