Airbnb Offers Free Housing to Refugees Stranded by Trump's Travel Ban

Politics Reuters

Home-sharing website Airbnb is offering free accommodation to refugees and others barred from entering the United States due to President Donald Trump's immigration curbs, it said on Monday.

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Airbnb's decision comes amid a global backlash against Trump's order which puts a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily bans travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries.

In a note posted on its website, the company said it was working with partners to identify people who were unexpectedly stuck in limbo by the new restrictions and in need of a short-term place to stay.

The company, which helps users rent out their homes, also set up a webpage to enlist volunteers wishing to host affected refugees and immigrants.

"We must stand with those who are affected," said Brian Chesky, the California-based company's CEO, in the blog post.

"Barring refugees and people who are not a threat from entering America simply because they are from a certain country is not right."

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Immigrants and refugees were kept off flights and left stranded in airports worldwide amid scenes of confusion and anger after the immigration ban suddenly took effect on Friday.

Airbnb could not immediately provide data as to how many people had reached out for housing assistance.

Trump's order, in addition to temporarily closing the U.S. border to all refugees as well as travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, bans refugees from Syria indefinitely.

The company's move was welcomed on social media, with some 200,000 people liking a tweet from Chesky announcing the initiative.

"God bless you & what you're doing," wrote Twitter user @XeMurray.

In other Twitter messages, hosts from Canada to Ireland and Mexico offered to open their doors to stranded travelers.

However other tweets blasted Airbnb for not offering the same treatment to U.S. military veterans and homeless people.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb offers rentals in 65,000 cities across 191 countries, according to its website.

Last year, the company partnered with aid organizations to provide their workers with free housing as they respond to humanitarian crises.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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