Thanks to prompt support from Airbnb.org, an independent non-profit established by Airbnb in 2020, 80 staff from international aid agency GOAL and their families were provided with housing vouchers after losing their homes in the earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria on February 6.
Irish international NGO GOAL has more than 1,000 local staff in Türkiye and Syria who implement the organisations’ humanitarian aid and refugee response programmes in these countries. Hundreds of these humanitarian workers were left homeless after two earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 hit southern Türkiye and northern Syria on February 6, destroying or causing structural damage to some 260,000 buildings and displacing over four million people.
Most of the GOAL staff in Türkiye who lived and worked in the earthquake-affected provinces of Adana, Gaziantep, Hatay, and Şanlıurfa, where GOAL had established programme management offices and/or social service centres to deliver aid to Northwest Syria and support refugees in southern Türkiye, were among those displaced in the disaster. Airbnb.org and GOAL began collaborating immediately after the earthquakes to ensure that affected GOAL employees in Türkiye could access temporary accommodation through vouchers granted by Airbnb.org, an independent non-profit Airbnb started in 2020 to help connect people to temporary housing in times of crisis.
A total of 80 staff members received vouchers from Airbnb.org, with a total value of over 315K EUR (341K USD), which allowed individuals and families to stay in properties listed on Airbnb while recovering from and responding to the earthquakes’ impact.
Airbnb.org was able to support larger households with additional vouchers and grant families with persons in the final trimester of pregnancy extra time in the property as they cared for their new-born. Thanks to Airbnb.org’s support, affected GOAL staff were able to return to work more rapidly and to continue delivering timely aid to vulnerable communities in Syria and Türkiye in response to the unprecedented humanitarian needs that emerged after the earthquakes.
Said Sadie Bynum, Manager, Global Emergency Response Operations, Airbnb.org, “It is truly an honour to collaborate with an organisation like GOAL Global, who continued to provide critical relief to those in need – even as many GOALies were also impacted and displaced by the earthquake.”
Elif Çeliktaş, a Deputy Programme Manager with GOAL’s Türkiye Programme, was among the GOAL staff who received a housing voucher through Airbnb.org. Elif is responsible for implementing refugee protection and support projects in Hatay province, which suffered widespread damage in the disaster. Since Elif’s flat in Hatay was destroyed in the first earthquake on February 6, with Elif narrowly surviving the collapse, she moved to Adana, a nearby city in Türkiye’s southeast, to find safe accommodation. After GOAL initiated an emergency response to help earthquake-affected refugees in Hatay access essential needs like shelter, water, and food as well as protection assistance, Elif had to travel from Adana to Hatay and back every day to manage the delivery of aid.
Elif says that the Airbnb.org voucher she received, through which she was able to book a house in the outskirts of Hatay, proved extremely useful, saving her the long commute from Adana. “This support was very valuable to me, as it allowed me to live near the communities to whom we have reached out in our emergency response programme after the earthquakes. It has also been helpful for me to have stable accommodation for a while, which let me focus on my humanitarian work and not worry about housing and other needs in this period,” Elif adds.
Commenting on the partnership, Jeannie Zielinski, GOAL Syria Response Country Director, said: “Following the earthquakes, our staff in Türkiye and Syria took immediate action to reach those in need, despite having lost so much themselves – including their homes, loved ones, and colleagues. We are grateful for Airbnb’s.org shared understanding of how vital it is to work together in times of crisis to continue to deliver assistance to vulnerable communities.”
Airbnb.org is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in times of crisis around the world. Airbnb.org operates independently and leverages Airbnb, Inc. ‘s technology, services, and other resources at no charge to carry out Airbnb.org’s charitable purpose. The inspiration for Airbnb.org began in 2012 with a single host named Shell who opened up her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This sparked a movement and marked the beginning of a program that allows Hosts on Airbnb to provide stays for people in times of need. Since then, the program has evolved to focus on emergency response and to help provide stays to evacuees, relief workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19. Since then, Hosts have offered to open up their homes and helped provide accommodations to over 250,000 people in times of need. Airbnb.org is a separate and independent entity from Airbnb, Inc. Airbnb, Inc. does not charge service fees for Airbnb.org supported stays on its platform.