Brussels blasts: Belgians offer help to stranded commuters and those affected via #Ikwilhelpen and #OpenHouse

Stranded passengers wait with their luggage near Brussels airport in Zaventem, Belgium.
Stranded passengers wait with their luggage near Brussels airport in Zaventem, Belgium.PHOTO: EPA

BRUSSELS - Just hours after the horrific attacks in their capital Brussels, Belgians are fighting back with kindness.

Using the hashtags #Ikwilhelpen or "I want to help", and #OpenHouse, they are offering help to those stranded after the blasts on Monday morning Belgian time put the city under lockdown.

Communications manager Alexandre Alaphilppe created #OpenHouse, BuzzFeed News reported.

He said he started it after being inspired by a similar hashtag that had trended after the Paris attacks on Nov 13 last year.

While some were offering their homes, others were offering to pick up stranded people and drive them to safety.


Facebook too activated its safety check feature to allow people in the area to inform their Facebook contacts that they are safe.

As mobile networks became jammed in the wake of the attacks, people in Brussels were urged to resort to texting and Internet messaging rather than calls, Bloomberg reported.

Following the Paris attacks, in which 130 people died, the hashtag #PorteOuverte or “open door” offering shelter to those who needed it, was trending. The hashtag #prayforparis, was also popular.

Belgium's famous tourist attraction - the Manneken Pis,  a statue of a young boy urinating into a basin - also became a symbol for people to defy the acts of terror, with some depicting it urinating on guns and dynamites, and with messages such as #JeSuisBruxelles and Manneken Peace.

The famous Belgian statue Manneken Pis dressed in traditional Chinese clothes taken during the Chinese New Year. PHOTO: REUTERS