As tens of thousands of Afghans flee Afghanistan in the wake of a Taliban takeover, people around the world are scrambling to help. But providing help in a war-torn country with the chaos of U.S. military withdrawal and violent extremists seizing power is a bit complicated.
Simply getting people out of the country is hard enough. Figuring out what happens is even more complex. Where do these refugees go right now? How long do they stay? What countries will allow them to settle permanently? How do the necessary security screenings get handled? Who provides for their basic human needs as those details get sorted out?
While governments and refugee agencies work through the various moving parts and logistics, short-term rental company Airbnb has stepped up to provide a potential answer to one immediate need—where refugees will stay in the meantime.
For several years, Airbnb's non-profit arm Airbnb.org has provided temporary housing for people displaced by natural disasters and other crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has helped house healthcare workers on the front lines. For the past four years, the company has also helped provide temporary housing to 25,000 refugees around the world.
Earlier this year, Airbnb announced the creation of a $25 million Refugee Fund to expand their efforts to house and support refugees in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), HIAS, and Church World Service. With that fund and the company's experience hosting refugees, Airbnb is in a position to provide housing assistance in Afghanistan's newest refugee crisis.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced the new Afghan refugee initiative on Twitter:
While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts.— Brian Chesky (@Brian Chesky) 1629789660.0
"In this past week, it has become abundantly clear that the displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees here in the United States and elsewhere is a significant humanitarian crisis – and in the face of this need, our community is ready to once again step up," the company announced on its website. "Today, Airbnb and Airbnb.org are announcing that Airbnb.org will provide temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide – the cost of which is funded through contributions to Airbnb.org from Airbnb and Brian Chesky, as well as donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund."
If you’re willing to host a refugee family, reach out and I’ll connect you with the right people here to make it happen!— Brian Chesky (@Brian Chesky) 1629789688.0
Dave Milliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, praised Airbnb for its support.
"As the IRC helps to welcome and resettle Afghans in the U.S., accessible housing is urgently needed and essential," said Milliband in a statement. "We are grateful to our partners at Airbnb.org and Airbnb for once again offering their support and infrastructure to meet this moment, providing safe and welcoming places for individuals and families as they arrive in the United States and begin rebuilding their lives."
I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same. There’s no time to waste.— Brian Chesky (@Brian Chesky) 1629789719.0
Airbnb also acknowledged the complexities of the situation, but also called upon other businesses to make their own efforts to support the immediate needs on the ground:
"Airbnb and Airbnb.org recognize that the situation on the ground is fast evolving. Airbnb.org will closely collaborate with resettlement agencies and partners to go where the need goes, and evolve this initiative and our support as necessary. In addition, given the tremendous need, Airbnb urges fellow members of the global business community to join efforts to provide immediate support to Afghan refugees."
When the world faces a global crisis, it takes a collaboration of governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals to come up with solutions. Good for Airbnb for seeing an immediate human need it can help alleviate and taking action to make it happen.
- Millions of refugees live in limbo. Here's one initiative offering hope ... ›
- 3 things President Obama said about refugees that we all need to ... ›
- Four facts about refugee resettlement in the U.S. - Upworthy ›