Philanthropy is stepping up to provide support to Afghan refugees, including a $15.7 million grants from the LEGO Foundation, a $10 million emergency fund from Open Society Foundations, and a pledge from Airbnb to provide temporary housing worldwide for up to 20,000.
Following the U.S. departure from Afghanistan, thousands are scrambling to leave the country as the Taliban has seized back control. The United Nations has warned that up to half a million Afghans could leave the country by the end of the year, and it has called on neighbouring countries to keep their borders open. The current crisis comes on top of the 2.2 million Afghan refugees already in neighbouring countries, and 3.5 million people forced to flee their homes within Afghanistan’s borders.
The LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, the owners of the LEGO Group, announced a $15.7 million fund that will go to supporting vulnerable children in Haiti and Afghanistan. The fund will be run in partnership with UNICEF, UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency, and Education Cannot Wait.
‘The humanitarian crises that are happening in Haiti and Afghanistan are unimaginable and only intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both require a response that focuses attention on the immediate and long-term impacts’, said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chair of the Governing Board, The LEGO Foundation, and 4th generation representative of the LEGO owner family.
In another contribution from corporate philanthropy, Airbnb has announced that it will provide safe and temporary housing worldwide for up to 20,000 Afghan refugees.
‘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 announcement builds on efforts Airbnb has already committed to supporting displaced Afghans, including emergency funding provided to the International Rescue Committee, HIAS, and Church World Service.
Open Society Foundations have also launched an emergency fund, committing $10 million to expand immediate protection opportunities and assist Afghan citizens fleeing the Taliban. The fund will also help sponsor humanitarian parole programmes in the United States and bolster international relief organisations in their efforts to support Afghan citizens.
‘The Open Society Foundations have long worked in Afghanistan to promote human rights, culture, and freedom of expression’, said OSF president Mark Malloch-Brown. ‘We remain deeply committed to Afghans and their efforts to help the country advance toward a more open society. We call on funders to join us in our response to this urgent humanitarian crisis. There is truly not a moment to waste.’
Writing in Alliance last week, Insaan Group founder Farahnaz Karim addressed the philanthropy community with suggestions for impactful and respectful giving: ‘What Afghanistan teaches us, yet again, is that if we are to honour our shared humanity, our response must involve heart, and mind, to imagine and actually build a better future for all.’