Airbnb says it plans to temporarily house 20,000 Afghan refugees

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Families begin to board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, August 23, 2021.
Sgt. Samuel Ruiz | U.S. Marine Corps | via Reuters

Airbnb is planning to start housing 20,000 Afghan refugees around the world free of charge, the company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, said Tuesday.

The refugees will be housed in properties listed on Airbnb’s platform and the stays will be funded by Airbnb, Chesky said on Twitter, without specifying exactly how much the company plans to spend on the commitment or how long refugees will be housed for.

The U.S. said Monday it has evacuated roughly 48,000 people from Afghanistan in recent days, while thousands are still trying to escape, fearing reprisals from the Taliban militants now in power.

The main exit point is Kabul airport, where huge crowds have been gathering in the sweltering heat. The Taliban has set an airlift deadline of Aug. 31 and there are concerns many who want to leave the country won’t be able to.

“The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time,” said Chesky. “We feel a responsibility to step up.”

He added: “I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same. There’s no time to waste.”

Chesky urged Airbnb hosts to “reach out” to him if they want to host a refugee family and pledged to connect them with the right people at the company.

Companies of all shapes and sizes rush to show their support to victims in times of a major crisis; it’s an opportunity to be charitable and boost public relations in the process.

Airbnb, which is valued at around $92 billion, often offers to cover the cost of housing in emergencies. It says that 75,000 people have found a place to stay in a time of crisis since 2012.

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