Italy: Home to the colosseum, fine cuisine, and, more recently, a surplus of refugees. Since the start of 2017, over 84,000 refugees have landed in Italy, a 19% increase from this point last year. While there are programs that house, educate and employ refugees provided by the Italian government and NGOs, there is an imperative need for more spaces and opportunities as the amount of refugees increases. Between 2014 and 2016, only an eighth of Italian towns participated in government programs, and only around 16% of refugees were properly accommodated.
Italy is begging for help from their neighbors and the European Union, but receiving little support. Thankfully, Airbnb stepped up this July to support both Italy and the migrants who need a home.
Airbnb To The Rescue
On July 10th, Airbnb implemented their Open Homes program in Milan. Airbnb hosts now have the option to open their homes to refugees for no cost. Within less than 24 hours after the launch of the program, more than 100 volunteers signed up to house the migrants.
“Every single time we’ve asked our community to open their doors and hearts to help others, they have more than exceeded our expectations: they have humbled us with the immensity of their kindness,” said Airbnb cofounder, Joe Gebbia.
This isn’t the first time Airbnb has stepped up to house those who have been displaced. During Superstorm Sandy, volunteers gave the company the idea to offer free housing in times of need, and since then, the company has implemented more and more programs to help individuals who have gone through disaster. Through their disaster relief tool, Airbnb has housed thousands of first responders during dire situations, which eventually led to the Open Homes program. “For the last five years as great as the growth of our host community has been, we realized we could take it to a whole other level simply by shifting from being reactive to being proactive,” said Gebbia.
Is It Enough?
While Airbnb will certainly help Italy, the nation is still in crisis. The Italian government is seeking a pan-European approach to the refugee influx, but Greece took in less than 10,000 refugees since January in comparison to Italy’s 84,000, and the EU has not yet met Italy’s requests for other Southern European nations to open their ports to migrants. At the G20 summit in Hamburg, to Italy’s dismay, world leaders stressed that each nation has the right to keep their borders closed. Airbnb plans to expand their Open Homes program, as new partnerships have already been established in the U.S, Canada, France and Greece, but for Italy, more serious alterations made by the European Union are necessary to deal with the crisis.
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