Airbnb.org has also given emergency funding and support to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), HIAS and Church World Service to provide immediate temporary stays via the Airbnb platform for up to 1000 Afghan refugees arriving in the US and helped place 165 refugees in safe housing shortly after touching down.
“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives. For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO and co-founder.
The company is urging fellow global businesses to join efforts to provide immediate support to Afghan refugees.
Discount retailer Walmart said it will donate $1 million through the Walmart Foundation, to three non-profits that support Afghan refugees entering the US, as well as to veterans and their families.
Meanwhile, US telecommunications company Verizon is doing its bit to help by waiving charges for calls to Afghanistan from August 24 through to September 6. The move will apply to consumer and business wireless customers as well as residential landline customers.
“During this time of need, customers need to stay connected with loved ones in Afghanistan,” said Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group for Verizon. “Waiving these kinds of calling charges will help them focus on what matters: communicating with family and friends.”
Community Corporate, a certified social enterprise and national award-winning refugee employment specialist based in Australia, has already had pledges from its partners Woolworths and Ikea to extend their support.
“We have been overwhelmed with gestures of support and seen a surge among Australian businesses who have pledged jobs to the Afghan community – when they are ready,” Carmen Garcia, Community Corporate founder and CEO, told Inside Retail.
“We have a great network in Australia of humanitarian settlement providers, who are working closely with the government and community to support new arrivals from the Afghan community.”
Garcia expects Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia to be the main settlement states, where new arrivals can be linked in with existing larger Afghan communities.
She recommends anyone interested in donating goods reach out to Community Corporate first.
“There’s always a risk that already stretched community providers are inundated with goods in an unplanned way, so it’s best to speak to us about how we can coordinate efforts and make a real impact based on needs. We would love to see any donations for children’s toys, clothing and digital devices as the next phase of priorities,” she said.
There are many ways smaller brands can get involved too. Garcia recommends encouraging customers and staff to make donations to some of the charities (listed below) through e-newsletters or charity option add ons at the checkout.
“Thinking into the future, the best form of welcome and helping new arrivals feel a true sense of belonging is to help them secure work, which lies at the core of human dignity,” she said.
“Leading up to Christmas trading, anyone looking to hire may consider doing it differently this year with meaning, and trial recruitment with a social conscience through Community Corporate’s DiversityWorks supported refugee employment model.”
Supporting Afghanistan-born employees
The crisis is of course not only affecting people in Afghanistan, but the Afghan community worldwide.
On Friday, the Australian Human Rights Commission said it was deeply concerned for the safety of Australians, Australian visa holders, and any family members of Australia’s Afghan diaspora who remained in Afghanistan.
The latest Census in 2016 recorded nearly 47,000 Afghanistan-born people in Australia, an increase of 63.6 per cent from the figure recorded in 2011. Of the 18,481 Afghanistan-born people who were employed in Australia in 2016, 47.3 per cent were employed in either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation.
“Afghans are the second-largest cultural group of humanitarian refugees in the last 20 years with some 26,000+ now residing in Australia. It is very likely many businesses will have existing team members from this community,” Garcia said.
“It is important to remember how the current situation will impact on their wellbeing, as they not only fear for loved ones, but it will likely re-trigger their own pre-migration traumatic experiences.”
Garcia said it is important to extend understanding and support to all affected employees, remind them of employee assistance services available and supports like Beyond Blue and Lifeline.
“Where possible, offering flexibility at work would be great, as many will be deeply impacted by this crisis.”
She also suggests asking existing employees for their advice, as many are feeling so hopeless that they cannot help directly.
“It may be as simple as letting them host a morning tea to fundraise for a charity, or sending out a company-wide email for direct donations as a gesture of support. What’s important now, is that we stand in solidarity, supporting the human rights of all, especially women and girls impacted by this situation in Kabul.”
The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) has launched an Afghan Crisis Helpline for Afghan nationals in Australia, Iran or Afghanistan. APNOR can provide emergency support items, link individuals with mental health counsellors and provide referrals for pro bono legal support.
Garcia said it’s a timely reminder for all team members, that “no-one chooses crisis”.
“This is a situation thrown onto people at no fault of their own. It is a time to extend kindness and understanding. Finding ways to welcome them into our community and giving the gift of work will be critical as many will be forced to rebuild their lives from scratch.
“I invite any businesses wanting to make this jobs pledge to reach out to me, and support our efforts in being able to support this critical rebuilding and resettlement stage, as it offers our refugees hope for a safe and secure future in Australia.”
To find out how your business can help with Community Corporate, contact email@example.com
To make donations: https://www.unrefugees.org.au/campaigns/afghanistan-crisis-rg/
The Australian Philanthropic Association has compiled a list of organisations they have vetted where donations can be made directly: https://www.australianphilanthropicservices.com.au/give-list-afghanistan/
Afghan Crisis Helpline: Call (+61) 1800 855 707 visit: https://apnor.org