Airbnb has announced that it will seek to home up to 20,000 Afghan refugees, with the company footing the bill.
The Afghan refugee program will begin immediately, with the company actively seeking willing hosts to take refugees into their Airbnb property for an as-yet-unspecified amount of time.
The company will work closely with NGOs through its non-profit arm, Airbnb.org, to identify and house some of the tens of thousands of Afghan's attempting to leave the country after international troops withdrew support and consequent return to power of the Taliban.
Airbnb Provides Housing for Afghan Refugees
In a series of tweets, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced that the company will "begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free."
Airbnb will cover the costs of the stays in any of its hosts' properties, while willing Airbnb hosts can offer their dwelling for a refugee family.
Currently, little is known about how long Airbnb plans to operate its refugee placement scheme. The company is accepting applications from hosts worldwide, but there is little indication as to whether Airbnb will be covering flights (presumably not) and other basic welfare requirements, as many of the Afghan refugees have fled the country with only a suitcase and the clothes they were wearing.
Christopher Nulty, Director of Public Affairs at Airbnb, said that the goal of Airbnb's Afghan refugee scheme is "getting people into safe housing as soon as possible," but the company would "defer to our partners on the ground and evolve the support as needed."
It's a bold statement from a company that frequently comes under fire for its business model, but one that Chesky hopes will "inspire other business leaders to do the same."
Airbnb Open Homes Initiative Has Housed Thousands Already
Airbnb's Open Homes program was first launched in 2017, building on its existing emergency housing placement scheme that was launched in response to Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.
Since then, the company has housed around 75,000 people during times of crisis, offering support during the Mexico City earthquake, Californian wildfires, Australian bushfires, and other disasters.
Right now, the prospective timeframe is days and weeks rather than months, with Airbnb delivering a stepping stone out of Afghanistan for those who need it most.
With the number of refugees expecting to grow, and with over 2.5 million displaced Afghan's already seeking help in some form, the current humanitarian crisis taking place in the country can only deepen.