Airbnb says it will house at least 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan

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Aug. 24 (UPI) — Online rental platform Airbnb announced on Tuesday that it’s planning to put up at least 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan at properties around the world at no cost.

The announcement came after a week of chaos in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of Western citizens and Afghans scrambled to find flights out of the country — and for those who have gotten out, places to stay.

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“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 statement.

Earlier this year, Airbnb announced the creation of the $25 million Refugee Fund to help refugees worldwide. The temporary housing for Afghan refugees will be provided in part by the company’s nonprofit arm.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the cost will be funded by the company, donors and himself.

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

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U.S. officials have said close to 50,000 people have been evacuated so far, but thousands more remain in the country.

President Joe Biden will meet virtually on Tuesday with leaders of other Group of Seven nations for an emergency summit to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and a strategy going forward. One issue up for discussion will be the U.S. military’s Aug. 31 deadline to be entirely withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Allies have urged Biden to extend the deadline to airlift as many citizens and refugees as possible, but the Taliban has warned against prolonging the U.S. military presence in the battle-scarred country.