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Airbnb to offer free temporary housing to 20K Afghan refugees

Afghan refugees arrive on Monday in Chantilly, Va. Airbnb said Tuesday that it would begin offering free accommodations around the world to some 20,000 refugees forced to flee Afghanistan.  (Associated Press )
By Jennifer Hassan Washington Post

Vacation rental company Airbnb said Tuesday that it would begin offering free accommodation around the world to some 20,000 refugees forced to flee Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s rapid rise to power.

“The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time,” Airbnb’s co-founder and head of community, Ben Chesky, confirmed in a series of tweets.

“We feel a responsibility to step up,” he said as the United States and NATO forces continued their efforts to evacuate those most at risk from the country.

The company said it would cover the costs of the initiative and it would also rely on donations to its Refugee Fund.

In a statement released, Airbnb said that there was “tremendous need” for the initiative due to the “fast evolving” crisis in Afghanistan.

Since Aug. 14, the United States has evacuated about 58,700 people from Kabul, with images showing their relief and exhaustion after facing violent clashes, Taliban fighters, and chaotic scenes at Kabul airport.

Within just 24 hours ending Tuesday morning, about 21,600 people were evacuated on U.S. and coalition flights

Chesky said it was the community’s hosts offering up their residences that made the idea truly possible, and he asked people to sign up to accommodate a refugee family if they wanted to help those fleeing Taliban rule.

He also said he hoped that the company’s initiative would inspire “other business leaders to do the same.”

“There’s no time to waste,” he said.

The announcement comes as companies and countries around the world face growing pressure to help those frantically trying to escape the country.

On Tuesday, the European Union said it would increase its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by more than $175 million.

There are almost 2.5 million registered Afghan refugees, who have been forced to flee their homes, according to the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

According to Airbnb, 75,000 vulnerable people have found safe accommodation amid times of crisis over the last nine years.