All Commentary
Tuesday, August 24, 2021 Leer en Español

How Airbnb is Stepping Up to Help Afghan Refugees

Free markets and free people can step up to solve problems—when given the chance.

Composite Image by FEE | Image Credit: US Air Force via WikimediaCommons | CC BY-SA 2.0 | (

The world has watched the chaos unfolding in Afghanistan with a breaking heart. After decades of unsuccessful US attempts at nation-building, the alternative government has collapsed and the Taliban are retaking control of the country. This will mean the renewed subjugation and suffering of millions of Afghans, and could create 400,000 to 2 million new displaced refugees.

But the news isn’t all bleak. Across the globe, charities and companies are stepping up to help the Afghan people, with app-based lodging/rental company Airbnb offering the latest example. In an announcement this morning, Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky said that the company will help house 20,000 Afghan refugees at no cost.

Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free,” Chesky wrote on Twitter. “While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts. If you’re willing to host a refugee family, reach out and I’ll connect you with the right people here to make it happen!”

“The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time,” he concluded. “We feel a responsibility to step up.”

Helping 20,000 people displaced by the chaos in Afghanistan find new homes and get resettled is enough to make a big difference, and Airbnb should be applauded for this effort. That said, it’s obviously not nearly enough to mitigate the entire problem—but Airbnb is just one company whose name recognition means its efforts garner headlines. There are thousands more organizations and individuals from the private sector similarly stepping up that you may not hear about in the news. 

The bigger takeaway here is not that Airbnb has somehow saved the day or that one benevolent company can solve our problems. It’s that free markets and free people can step up to solve problems—when given the chance. Oftentimes it’s assumed in our political debates that if one believes a problem exists, big government is the “solution.”

Climate change is real becomes the Green New Deal.

Wages should be higher becomes the $15 minimum wage.

Healthcare is too expensive becomes socialized “Medicare for All.”

Yet in reality, we aren’t debating whether problems exist in our society, but whether big government is the way to solve them. Airbnb just provided us with yet another example of how when free people are left to their own devices, they can step up and help solve even some of humanity’s biggest problems.

Like this story? Click here to sign up for the FEE Daily and get free-market news and analysis like this from Policy Correspondent Brad Polumbo in your inbox every weekday.