Airbnb is doubling the number of Afghan refugees it plans to temporarily house as more people flee Afghanistan and seek shelter after the Taliban seized power in the country last month.
The San Francisco-based company aims to provide free housing to 20,000 additional Afghan refugees, bringing the total to 40,000 since it started the initiative last month, it said in a statement.
“Thanks to the generosity of our hosts and donors from across the country and around the world, Airbnb.org will have the capacity to go above and beyond its initial commitment to house 20,000 Afghan refugees,” it said.
“If demand for housing aligns with supply in communities where refugees are resettling, these new resources could help provide housing for an additional 20,000 Afghan refugees.”
Airbnb.org is a non-profit arm of the company that helps people to find temporary accommodation in times of crisis around the world. Over the past four years, the organisation has helped more than 25,000 refugees find temporary housing.
In addition to stays funded by Airbnb, Airbnb.org and donors, 5,000 hosts on Airbnb have offered to provide free and discounted stays to Afghan refugees, with more hosts volunteering to support refugees every day, it said.
Tens of thousands of Afghans and foreign citizens have fled the country after the Taliban seized power two decades after they were toppled by the US and Nato.
The takeover by the militants raises the risk of economic collapse as the country continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, drought and a weakening currency.
The need for temporary housing is expected to grow as more Afghanis flee the country. In the US alone, officials estimate 65,000 refugees to arrive by the end of September and as many as 30,000 more in the year to come.
Airbnb said it is working with all nine US resettlement agencies, including International Rescue Committee and Church World Service, as well as Afghan-led organisations such as Women for Afghan Women, to help refugees.
“Resettlement agencies expect bookings will increase as more Afghan evacuees move off military bases and into communities where they will resettle.”
The company is also working closely with partners to assess temporary housing needs outside the US with the goal of expanding to other countries that have committed to resettle a significant number of Afghan refugees, it said.
The UAE is also hosting Afghan families, especially women and children, and is committed to taking all necessary measures to provide them with care and social support while on UAE soil.
The initiative by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is designed to extend safety and dignity to these families, UAE state news agency Wam reported earlier.