Humanitarian Crisis: Airbnb to provide a safety zone for Afghan refugees

October 2, 2021

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Through their nonprofit, Airbnb is providing temporary housing for 20,000 Afghan refugees amidst what CEO Brian Chesky notes as “one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time”.

What does this mean?

In order to provide shelter for refugees, Airbnb is encouraging hosts to donate their homes to displaced persons for free, or provide discounted housing paid for by one of the partner charities. This idea was originally conceived by a host in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, with over 1000 people imminently needing emergency housing. Since then, the tinder of holiday homes has helped around 75,000 people. This has been made possible because of their Open Homes initiative that is linked with their nonprofit, Airbnb.org, which has worked tirelessly over the last 9 years aiding those who have been affected by the pandemic to those who were affected by the wildfires in Australia. Airbnb will work on the ground to meet this pressing need with various NGOs and charities to assist those in temporary housing with their long term plans.

Beyond this, 100% of donations will go towards linking people with long term housing. This is made possible by Airbnb waiving any processing fees so that every dollar contributes towards helping people find a home. Furthemore, the Shapiro Fund will match every donation up to USD $1 million until the 15th of September 2021.

What's the big picture effect?

Undeniably, Afghanistan is undergoing the biggest humanitarian crisis within contemporary society. It will be interesting to see whether or not Airbnb will be successful in spearheading the movement into influencing other companies to provide aid during this incredibly critical situation. Inevitably, these emergencies can open up riveting conversations around the relevance of corporate social responsibility and whether or not the notion of ethical capitalism is achievable. As these crises disproportionately affect those who are financially at a disadvantage, and who also rely on the success of capitalism, it is difficult to assume that the majority of the commercial world will line up to aid those in need. 

This is especially true, as many businesses are recovering from the effects of the pandemic, or becoming stagnant from the unexpected success brought about from people staying indoors. Either way, the corporate world may decide to put corporate social responsibility on the back burner for now. Nonetheless, Airbnb’s co-founder, Joe Gebbia spoke about how the global business community has a vital role to play in order to respond to crises, suggesting that the commercial world may strive to achieve a level of ethical capitalism post-pandemic, amidst what seems to be a never-ending humanitarian crisis.  Airbnb’s power move here, displays the best of the internet in connecting masses of people who require immediate aid. Before their platform, society would not have been able even fathom such generosity from the online world, an encouraging sight to see amidst the constant negativity within the news.

Report written by Rida Ahmed

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