Online accommodation platform Airbnb said its host members around the globe can sign up to make their properties available without any charge to 20,000 Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover in their country.
Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said Tuesday the company intends to provide free temporary housing worldwide to Afghan refugees in the face of the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan.
As U.S. and other countries scramble to airlift tens of thousands of civilians and combat troops, the online vacation rental site called the resettlement and displacement of refugees a "major humanitarian crisis."
Chesky said the company felt a moral obligation to step up, hoping it will "inspire other business leaders to do the same as there is no time to waste."
The CEO said Airbnb will cover the costs for the accommodation using money from contributions to its non-profit Airbnb.org, as well as personal contributions from Chesky himself.
Chesky said the company will also coordinate with non-government groups through Airbnb.org to offer the refugees with emergency housing during their misery.
The company did not say how long the Afghan refugees could be accommodated in the residences, but said hosts are willing to offer long-term stays.
Airbnb said it had started supporting Afghans running away from the country last week when the company approved a financial assistance to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other groups to offer emergency stays using the company's platform for up to 1,000 refugees.
Chesky said he hopes the Airbnb community will offer the refugees with not only a safe place to stay and start over, but also a warm welcome home.
In the wake of the chaos, governments and private firms face mounting pressure to provide assistance to refugees fleeing Afghanistan.
As of Tuesday, nearly 2.5 million refugees have been registered in Afghanistan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.
Since August 15, nations have evacuated almost 60,000 people from Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul.
In the past few days, Airbnb said it has placed 165 Afghan refugees in housing across the U.S., including in New Jersey, Texas, California, Ohio, Washington State and Virginia.