Thousands of people are fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban rebels took control of the nation and online rental firm Airbnb has announced that it would give free accommodation to 20,000 displaced Afghan refugees throughout the world to help them settle.

During times of crisis, Airbnb invites its hosts to contribute stays at their properties. Since 2012,, an independent nonprofit that collaborates with Airbnb for this reason, claims to have assisted 75,000 individuals in finding somewhere to stay during times of crisis.

Thousands of Afghans have fled the Taliban, adding to the millions of Afghans who have been domestically or internationally displaced. The United Nations estimates that over 3.5 million Afghans are internally displaced. 270,000 people have been displaced since January, and 2.6 million people are refugees in other countries.

The situation in Afghanistan has caused governments throughout the world to prepare for a massive inflow of asylum seekers, escalating already contentious arguments in some wealthy countries about what to do. Many nations, notably NATO allies who were involved in Afghanistan, have pledged to accept refugees, but the number of individuals seeking asylum is expected to be considerably lower.

The situation is particularly severe in Europe, which is still reeling from the divisions and political upheavals sparked by the flood of Syrian and Libyan refugees. Since the Taliban retook Afghanistan, Greece has completed the construction of a wall along part of its border with Turkey to prevent migrants from crossing by land into the European Union.

Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky wrote on Twitter, “The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere are one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up.” He also encouraged all those in financial capability “to do the same”.