Airbnb on Tuesday announced that it will provide free, temporary accommodation around the world to approximately 20,000 refugees forced to flee Afghanistan in the wake of President Biden's botched military withdrawal, which allowed the Taliban to topple the government within a matter of days.
"The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time," tweeted Airbnb co-founder and head of community, Ben Chesky, who added that the company couldn't do this 'without the generosity of our hosts.'
"We feel a responsibility to step up," he added.
While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts.— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) August 24, 2021
I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same. There’s no time to waste.— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) August 24, 2021
The vacation rental company said in a statement that it would cover the costs for the initiative, while also using funds from its Refugee Fund to address the "tremendous need" due to the "fast evolving" crisis in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post.
Since Aug. 14, the United States has evacuated about 58,700 people from Kabul, with images showing their relief and exhaustion after facing violent clashes, Taliban fighters, and chaotic scenes at Kabul airport. Within just 24 hours ending Tuesday morning, about 21,600 people were evacuated on U.S. and coalition flights.
Chesky said it was the community’s hosts offering up their residences that made the idea truly possible, and asked people to sign up to accommodate a refugee family if they wanted to help those fleeing Taliban rule.
He also said he hoped that the company’s initiative would inspire “other business leaders to do the same."
“There’s no time to waste,” he said. -WaPo
And according to the New York Times, Airbnb placed 165 refugees in housing across the US - including California, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington State.
As a flood of refugees flee Afghanistan, the European Union said it would increase its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by over $175 million. According to the UN Refugee agency, UNHCR, there are approximately 2.5 million registered Afghan refugees who have fled the country - however, officials say the true figure is likely to be 'significantly higher.'
An estimated 30,000 Afghan refugees are reportedly headed to the United States, according to the Department of Defense.