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Airbnb To Open Rental Properties To Fleeing Afghani Refugees

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco-based short-term giant Arbnb announced Tuesday it would begin offering free accommodations around the world to the thousands who were fleeing Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover.

Airbnb's co-founder Ben Chesky made the announcement via a series of social media postings.

"Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free. The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up. I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same. There's no time to waste."

The company said that it would cover the costs of the initiative for up to 20,000 refugees, relying on donations to its Refugee Fund.

Recent days have seen a flurry of efforts to speed a chaotic evacuation of foreigners and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul's airport, where scenes of desperation have highlighted both the disarray of the American pullout and fears that the Taliban will again impose a brutal rule.

Leaders of the Group of Seven nations plan to meet later in the day to discuss possibly extending the airlift past the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. pullout despite a Taliban warning that would be a "red line."

Since Aug. 14, the United States has evacuated about 58,700 people from Kabul, with images showing their relief and exhaustion after facing violent clashes, Taliban fighters, and chaotic scenes at Kabul airport. Within just 24 hours ending Tuesday morning, about 21,600 people were evacuated on U.S. and coalition flights

In the wake of their stunning takeover of Afghanistan, Taliban leaders have promised to restore security and tried to project an image of moderation, but many Afghans are skeptical. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet added to those concerns Tuesday, warning she had credible reports of "summary executions" and restrictions on women in areas under Taliban control. She urged the Human Rights Council to take "bold and vigorous action" to monitor the rights situation.

Bachelet did not specify what time timeframe she was referring to or the source of her reports. It has been difficult to determine how widespread abuses might be and whether they reflect that Taliban leaders are saying one thing and doing another, or if fighters on the ground are taking matters into their own hands.

When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the group largely confined women to their homes, banned television and music, chopped off the hands of suspected thieves and held public executions.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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