Airbnb said this week it will offer free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.
The program will be backed by Airbnb.org, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and funded by donors and hosts.
CEO Brian Chesky announced the program on Twitter, asking “people who can offer their homes in nearby countries, including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania” to sign up on the nonprofit arm’s website.
1. Airbnb and https://t.co/enqjlQB0rH are working with our Hosts to house up to 100,000 refugees fleeing from Ukraine, for free
— Brian Chesky 🇺🇦 (@bchesky) February 28, 2022
The U.N. refugee agency has warned the invasion could set off the largest refugee crisis this century. As Russian forces advance into the country, the company said it would work closely with European governments to coordinate hosting, including offering long-term stays where possible.
Airbnb first enlisted hosts to donate their lodgings after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. Airbnb.org last year created the Refugee Fund, a $25 million fundraising initiative to support refugees worldwide that has received 4,000 donations so far. The nonprofit last month provided 20,000 Afghan refugees with free, temporary housing.
The company has hosted over 54,000 refugees over the past five years through the nonprofit affiliate.
The announcement comes as an estimated 660,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes for neighboring countries in Europe in the first days of the war, according to the U.N. The refugee agency said that figure could rise to 4 million by July.
Roughly half of the refugees are in Poland and the rest are scattered across a number of other countries including Romania, Moldova and Hungary, according to The New York Times.
“The situation is rapidly evolving, so stay tuned for more information in the coming days,” Chesky wrote on Twitter.
The U.N. refugee agency is soliciting donations in hopes of delivering $1.7 billion to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees and those who remained in the country. The agency estimates a total of 12 million people will need aid in the near future and it hopes to allocate a preliminary $550 million to help refugees.
An individual donation of $100 can provide a displaced child with psychological support like day care and access to child-friendly spaces. Donations can be made here.