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Airbnb to give 20,000 Afghan refugees free temporary accommodation

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People evacuated from Afghanistan step off a bus as they arrive at a processing center in Chantilly, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, after arriving on a flight at Dulles International Airport. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
People evacuated from Afghanistan step off a bus after arriving on a flight at Dulles International Airport, Washinton,US. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Short-term rental app Airbnb (ABNB) said on Tuesday it would move to provide temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide.

This will be funded through contributions to Airbnb.org from Airbnb and CEO Brian Chesky, as well as donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund.

"In this past week, it has become abundantly clear that the displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees here in the United States and elsewhere is a significant humanitarian crisis — and in the face of this need, our community is ready to once again step up," the company said in a release. 

A spokesperson said there was no set time limit for the programme and that details on how hosts can sign up would be released over the coming days. 

Watch: Flight of evacuees from Kabul arrives at UK air base

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Airbnb.org is an independent, US-based, nonprofit organisation dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in moments of crisis, and has helped to shelter those displaced by natural disasters, and offered hundreds of thousands of places to stay and peace of mind to frontline workers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes as the US and allied countries flew nearly 11,000 people out of Kabul in a 12-hour window on Monday.  

The White House said that the number of people it had evacuated from the country since mid-August was nearly 50,000. 

The 31 August deadline for evacuating people from the country is fast approaching, with world leaders such as UK prime minister Boris Johnson expected to ask US president Joe Biden for an extension on that date.

Airbnb and Airbnb.org said it recognises that the situation on the ground is fast-evolving. 

Airbnb.org also said it will closely collaborate with resettlement agencies and partners to go where the need goes, and evolve this initiative and support as necessary. 

Read more: Full list: Where Deliveroo is trialling Boots deliveries

The platform urged fellow members of the global business community to join efforts to provide immediate support to Afghan refugees.

Brian Chesky, AirBnB's CEO tweeted: "The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up."

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Over the past four years, Airbnb.org and Airbnb have connected approximately 25,000 refugees — including hundreds participating in the US Special Immigrant Visa Program — to temporary housing.

Earlier this year, Airbnb.org announced the creation of the $25m (£18.2m) Refugee Fund, to further expand Airbnb.org’s support of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide.

Watch: Airbnb offers temporary housing to Afghans, Walmart launches delivery service, El Salvador’s Bitcoin ATM rollout

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