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Airbnb to provide free temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees

A protester wears the flag of Ukraine outside of the United Nations at a rally while the emergency special session on the invasion of Ukraine takes place at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Monday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A protester wears the flag of Ukraine outside of the United Nations at a rally while the emergency special session on the invasion of Ukraine takes place at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Monday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- American vacation rental company Airbnb said Monday it would provide free temporary housing to as many as 100,000 refugees leaving Ukraine.

The news came as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Monday that more than 500,000 refugees have now fled Ukraine. That number has increased from the 150,000 that had crossed Ukraine's borders by Saturday.

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The housing will be provided by the company and donors to its refugee fund with along with "the generosity of hosts" on the platform, the company said in a statement.

The company has sent initial letters offering its assistance to countries including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Brian Chesky, the company's CEO, said in a statement on Twitter that the company needs more help from people who can offer their homes and provided a link for those who would like to sign up to be involved.

"The enormity of this effort requires a scale of help like we've never seen," said Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia on Twitter.

The company said last week that it has also provided housing to about 21,300 refugees from Afghanistan and would work to provide housing to another 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan and other countries worldwide.

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"We know that hosts and guests on Airbnb around the world will be eager to stand up and assist this massive effort to help those fleeing Ukraine," the company said in its statement.

"Airbnb.org will work directly through nonprofits on the ground, who are responsible for booking and coordinating stays for refugee guests, regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, or how they identify."

Many of the refugees are also fleeing to Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the south. It has been an evacuation point for Ukrainian refugees fleeing cities such as the port city of Odessa, where Russian troops landed at the start of the invasion.

President Maia Sandu of Moldova said in a statement that Moldovans have "opened their hearts and homes to the people of Ukraine who need help."

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