World: The online accommodation platform Airbnb said it would house 20,000 Afghan refugees for free to help them relocate around the world.
The company’s boss said the move was in response to ‘one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time’.
He said the firm feels a responsibility to act.
CEO Brian Chesky added: “I hope it inspires other business leaders to do the same. There’s no time to waste.”
“While tens of thousands of Afghanistan refugees are resettling around the world, the first chapter in their new lives will be where they live. For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will not only give them a safe place to rest and start again, but also a warm welcome home,” he stated.
The offer starts promptly and the group said it is working ‘on the ground’ with non-governmental organizations to help with the most urgent needs.
It said it would work with relocation agencies and partners “to go where the need goes” and develop the initiative and its support, if necessary.
“As of today, Airbnb worldwide will start free of charge to accommodate 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide,” Chesky tweeted Tuesday.
“While we were going to pay for this stay, we could not have done it without the hospitality of our hosts.”
The company said the cost of the stay would be funded by contributions from Airbnb and Chesky, as well as contributors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund.
He requested for volunteer hosts to reach him, saying: “The relocation and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and abroad is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time.”
Property owners hosting Airbnb sites have long been encouraged to donate accommodation in their homes for ‘people in crisis’.
The plan started in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when more than 1,000 people required first aid after the city of New York was hit.
Since then, it professes to have accommodated more than 75,000 people.
The group launched its Open Homes initiative in 2017 to facilitate its host society to offer their homes for free to people struck by disasters or fleeing conflict.
The initiative has since provided free accommodation to people affected by the earthquake in Mexico City, California wildfires, Australian forest fires and other disasters.
It has also led the company to set up its own independent non-profit organization, Airbnb.org, to concentrate on helping people share accommodations and supplies with each other in moments of crisis.
Last week, it provided emergency funding and support to the International Rescue Committee, HIAS and Church World Service to provide temporary accommodation to up to 1,000 arriving Afghan refugees.
Over the past weekend, it placed 165 refugees in safe housing shortly after arriving in the US.
“Accessible housing is urgently needed and necessary,” said David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee.