Airbnb to host 20,000 Afghan refugees for free, including some in Ireland

25 Aug 2021

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CEO Brian Chesky said Airbnb will bear the cost of temporarily housing refugees entering the US and other countries for resettlement.

Airbnb will provide temporary housing to around 20,000 Afghan refugees in the US and other countries through Airbnb.org.

This includes some of the 230 Afghan refugees coming to Ireland that the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has committed to hosting. “We will be offering housing in the UK and Ireland, but we cannot confirm how much at this time,” Airbnb told The Times.

Airbnb.org is an independent non-profit that provides temporary accommodation to shelter people in times of crisis such as natural disasters, health emergencies and wars. More than 225,000 homes affiliated with Airbnb.org were opened to frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said on Twitter that the company will be funding the accommodation, working with Airbnb.org and NGOs. This includes contributions from Chesky himself, along with donors to the $25m Airbnb.org refugee fund announced earlier this year.

“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives,” he added in a company announcement.

“For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home.”

‘No time to waste’

Chesky called the displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere “one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time” and asked hosts and other business to step up to the cause and reach out to Airbnb to find ways to help.

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

This is not the first time Airbnb has looked to help refugees fleeing crises. Over the past four years, Airbnb and Airbnb.org have helped around 25,000 refugees to find temporary housing, including those participating in the US Special Immigrant Visa programme.

Last week, Airbnb.org gave funding and extended its support to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other organisations to provide immediate temporary accommodation through Airbnb’s platform to up to 1,000 Afghan refugees. It also helped house 165 refugees who landed in the US over the weekend.

David Miliband, president and CEO of the IRC, said that accessible housing is urgently needed and essential in the programme to resettle Afghan refugees arriving in the US.

He said he was grateful to Airbnb and Airbnb.org for “providing safe and welcoming places for individuals and families as they arrive in the United States and begin rebuilding their lives”.

Other US companies have also been stepping in to help. According to Reuters, Telecom giant Verizon said it plans to waive charges for calls from its customers to Afghanistan starting today (25 August), while retail giant Walmart plans to donate $1m to support refugees and veterans entering the US.

Vish Gain is a journalist and copywriter with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com