Airbnb announced Monday that the homestay and rental company, along with the nonprofit Airbnb.org, will offer free short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s attacks on the country.
A message posted on the company’s website revealed that Airbnb’s co-founders — Brian Chesky, who serves as CEO, Joe Gebbia, Airbnb.org’s chairman, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s chief strategy officer — sent letters to leaders across Europe detailing their plans to support refugees.
“While Airbnb.org is committing to facilitate short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, it will work closely with governments to best support the specific needs in each country, including by providing longer-term stays,” the statement said.
Chesky also posted about Airbnb’s commitment to Ukrainian refugees on Twitter.
He welcomed help from residents in nearby countries like Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania who can offer their homes to refugees.
“All stays are free for refugees, funded by Airbnb, Airbnb.org donors and through the generosity of Hosts,” he tweeted in the thread. He also provided links for refugees and asylum seekers who need immediate assistance.
Chesky concluded the thread by adding that the company would provide updates as the situation evolves.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week, over 500,000 people have fled Ukraine, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, reported on Monday.
So far, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia have accepted Ukrainian refugees. A global spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency told NBC News that Poland had taken in the most refugees at 281,000. Hungary follows with nearly 85,000 Ukrainians, while Moldova, Romania and Slovakia have taken between 30,000 and 36,000 people.
NBC News also reports that about 35,000 people have fled to other European countries.
Violence in Ukraine has increased as Russian troops try to overtake the capital Kyiv. Russia has unleashed airstrikes on multiple cities and military bases in addition to sending troops and tanks into the country.
Amid the conflict, some Ukrainian mothers have had to give birth in bomb shelters. Hanna Hopko, the former deputy head of Ukraine, shared photos on social media of a mom holding her newborn daughter.
“Mia was born in shelter this night in stressful environment-bombing of Kyiv. Her mom is happy after this challenging birth giving,” Hopko tweeted. “When Putin kills Ukrainians we call mothers of Russia and Belarus to protest against Russia war in Ukraine. We defend lives and humanity!”
Other residents have had to retreat underground and use Kyiv subway stations as bomb shelters for safety.
A video on social media shows the destruction of a clothing factory in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Organizations have been on the ground providing food and shelter to refugees in need. Global Empowerment Mission, a Miami-based organization, is using donations to purchase train and plane tickets for Ukrainians who want to leave the country. The World Central Kitchen and chef José Andrés are also assisting by serving warm meals.
On Monday, former “Dancing With the Stars” pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who is currently in Kyiv, posted an update about his situation on social media.
“Just a lot of fighting everywhere,” he shared in an Instagram video. “The streets are crazy.”
He said that he was arrested at one point, but added he is “all good. Promise.”
Chmerkovskiy asked followers to not “panic” if he disappears for some time as he tries to make his way to the border and leave.
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