Ethical Considerations in Re-Using Private Sector Data for Migration-Related Policy


IOM practitioner’s paper: “This paper assesses the ethical risks of using non-traditional data sources to inform migration related policymaking and suggests practical safeguards for various stages during the data cycle. The past decade has witnessed the rapid growth of non-traditional data (social media, mobile phones, satellite data, bank records, etc.) and their use in migration research and policy. While these data sources may be tempting and shed light on main migration trends, ensuring the ethical and responsible use of big data at every stage of migration research and policymaking is complex.

The recognition of the potential of new data sources for migration policy has grown exponentially in recent years. Data innovation is one of the crosscutting priorities of IOM’s Migration Data Strategy.
Further, the UN General Assembly recognises rapid technological developments and their potential in
achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration highlights the importance of harnessing data innovation to improve data and evidence for informed policies on migration. However, with big data comes big risks. New technological developments have opened new challenges, particularly, concerning data protection, individual privacy, human security,
and fundamental rights. These risks can be greater for certain migrant and displaced groups.
The identified risks are:…(More)” (see also Big Data for Migration Alliance)

Nowcasting daily population displacement in Ukraine through social media advertising data


Pre-Publication Paper by Douglas R. Leasure et al: “In times of crisis, real-time data mapping population displacements are invaluable for targeted humanitarian response. The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 forcibly displaced millions of people from their homes including nearly 6m refugees flowing across the border in just a few weeks, but information was scarce regarding displaced and vulnerable populations who remained inside Ukraine. We leveraged near real-time social media marketing data to estimate sub-national population sizes every day disaggregated by age and sex. Our metric of internal displacement estimated that 5.3m people had been internally displaced away from their baseline administrative region by March 14. Results revealed four distinct displacement patterns: large scale evacuations, refugee staging areas, internal areas of refuge, and irregular dynamics. While this innovative approach provided one of the only quantitative estimates of internal displacement in virtual real-time, we conclude by acknowledging risks and challenges for the future…(More)”.

Digital Wallets and Migration Policy: A Critical Intersection


Report by the German Marshall Fund: “A range of international bodies have recently begun experimenting with digital wallets. Digital wallets take many forms but are typically mobile phone-based systems that enable people to make electronic transactions and/or share identity credentials. In cross-border and migration contexts, digital wallets promise to have wide ranging implications for global governance, especially in identity management and finance. Aid organizations, governments, technology companies, and other interested parties are testing digital wallet projects that either target, or incidentally affect, migrants and refugees along with mainstream citizens.

A pertinent example is Ukraine’s Diia wallet. Precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the reliance on digital systems for governance, the Ukrainian government launched the Diia wallet in 2020. Diia provides Ukrainians with a centralized, digital platform for storing, managing, and sharing official credentials such as vaccination records, insurance documents, passports, ID cards, and licenses.  Through the Diia mobile application, Ukrainian people can engage with the government to update residence or driving license information, pay taxes, or access benefits, among other uses.

In early 2022, Russia’s war on Ukraine prompted the mass displacement of Ukrainian refugees. Key government infrastructures have been and continue to be targeted, compromised, and/or destroyed by Russian forces. Some Ukrainians have lost access to their devices, network connections, and digital ID documents in the Diia wallet (see Figure 1). However, others are using the wallet to access vital assistance. Internally displaced people are receiving monthly aid to cover living expenses; refugees are using Diia to donate to the army, report on enemy troops, and access TV and radio. The Diia wallet is a key example of a mainstream digital wallet system being stress tested in circumstances of political conflict and displacement. It illustrates the urgent need to investigate the implications of national digital wallet systems for governments and people in crisis:

  • Does the digital wallet infrastructure support the secure continuation of government services and assistance?
  • Do digital wallets boost the resilience of internally displaced people and refugees rebuilding their lives across borders, including marginalized groups?
  • What are the risks of a digital wallet system, and how are they playing out in conditions of mass displacement?…(More)”.

Democracy: by design and on the move


Essay by Erica Dorn and Federico Vaz: “We live in an era of hyper-mobility, marked by the mass movement of people virtually, trans-locally, and globally. More people are on the move than ever before in human history. Today, dispersed across the globe, there are between 272 million and one billion migrants. More than 15 million people worldwide live without nationality, and an even larger number of people live undocumented.

Much like James C. Scott, it can be tempting to think that the state has always seemed to be the enemy of ‘people who move around‘. For the kinetic elite, borders are thresholds of access. Meanwhile, for a growing number of displaced people, borders represent inhumane exclusion.

More than 15 million people worldwide live without nationality, and an even larger number of people live undocumented

Current democratic structures designed to be representative of the people cannot adapt to the increasing number of people on the move. As a result, an overwhelming gap exists between the rapidly changing reality of democracies made up of ineligible voters, and the need for inclusive participation in the democratic process.

In the US, several cities, including New York, have taken measures to pass non-citizen voting policies. These promote the inclusion of more residents in local elections. However, given generally low voter turnout, it will take more than voting rights to create more inclusive democracies…(More)”.

Digital Self-Determination as a Tool for Migrant Empowerment


Blog by Uma Kalkar, Marine Ragnet, and Stefaan Verhulst: “In 2020, there were an estimated 281 million migrants, accounting for 3.6% of the global population. Migrants move for a variety of reasons: some are forced to flee from unsafe situations caused by conflict or climate change, others voluntarily move in search of new opportunities. People on the move bring along a wealth of new data. This information creates new opportunities for data collection, use, and reuse across the migration process and by a variety of public, private, and humanitarian sectors. Increased access and use of data for migration need to be accompanied by increased agency and the empowerment of the data subjects — a concept called “digital self-determination” (DSD).

The Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M) is a multisectoral initiative driven by the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (IOM-GMDAC), the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD), and The GovLab at New York University. Realizing the need for a paradigm change for data in migration policy, the BD4M and International Network on Digital Self-Determination (IDSD) hosted the first studio as part of its Digital Self-Determination Studio Series

Although DSD is a relatively new concept, its roots stem from philosophy, psychology and human rights jurisprudence. Broadly speaking, DSD affirms that a person’s data is an extension of themselves in cyberspace, and we therefore need to consider how to provide a certain level of autonomy and agency to individuals or communities over their digital self. The first studio sought to deconstruct this concept within the context of migration and migrants. Below we list some of the main takeaways from the studio discussions.

Takeaway #1: DSD is in essence about the power asymmetries between migrants, states, and relevant organizations. Specifically, conversations around DSD centered around “power” and “control” — there is an asymmetry between the migrant and the state or organization they interact with to move within and across borders. These imbalances center around agency (a lack of autonomy over data collection, data consciousness, and data use); choice (in who, how, and where data are used, a lack of transparency over these decisions, and power and control issues faced when seeking to access national or social rights); and participation (who gets to formulate questions and access the data?).

  • Studio participants brought up how structural requirements force migrants to be open about their data; noted the opacity around how data is sourced from migrants; and raised concerns about agency, data literacy, and advocacy across the migrant process.
  • The various hierarchies of power, and how it relates to DSD for migrants, highlighted the discrepancies in power between migrants, the state, private companies, and even NGOs.
  • Information architecture and information asymmetries are some of the central aspects to consider to achieve DSD, suggesting that DSD may relate directly to who is telling the story during a crisis and who has the power to add insights to the narratives being developed. A responsible DSD framework will hinge on the voices of migrants.
  • The right to “data consciousness” was also raised to ensure that vulnerable individuals and groups are aware of when, where, and how data are collected, processed, and stored. Nurturing this awareness helps breed agency around personal data.
Representation of power asymmetries faced by migrants in achieving their DSD.

Takeaway #2: There is a need to understand the dual meaning of DSD.

Takeaway #3: There is a need to engage migrants in needs and expectations.

Takeaway #4: A taxonomy of DSD for the various migration-related steps can support creating effective tools to protect migrants along their journey...

Takeaway #5: DSD can be achieved through policy, technology, and process innovations.

Takeaway #6: DSD opportunities need to be determined across the data life cycle….(More)”.

Mobile phone data reveal the effects of violence on internal displacement in Afghanistan


Paper by Nearly 50 million people globally have been internally displaced due to conflict, persecution and human rights violations. However, the study of internally displaced persons—and the design of policies to assist them—is complicated by the fact that these people are often underrepresented in surveys and official statistics. We develop an approach to measure the impact of violence on internal displacement using anonymized high-frequency mobile phone data. We use this approach to quantify the short- and long-term impacts of violence on internal displacement in Afghanistan, a country that has experienced decades of conflict. Our results highlight how displacement depends on the nature of violence. High-casualty events, and violence involving the Islamic State, cause the most displacement. Provincial capitals act as magnets for people fleeing violence in outlying areas. Our work illustrates the potential for non-traditional data sources to facilitate research and policymaking in conflict settings….(More)”.

Using mobile money data and call detail records to explore the risks of urban migration in Tanzania


Paper by Rosa Lavelle-Hill: “Understanding what factors predict whether an urban migrant will end up in a deprived neighbourhood or not could help prevent the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. This study leveraged pseudonymized mobile money interactions combined with cell phone data to shed light on urban migration patterns and deprivation in Tanzania. Call detail records were used to identify individuals who migrated to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. A street survey of the city’s subwards was used to determine which individuals moved to more deprived areas. t-tests showed that people who settled in poorer neighbourhoods had less money coming into their mobile money account after they moved, but not before. A machine learning approach was then utilized to predict which migrants will move to poorer areas of the city, making them arguably more vulnerable to poverty, unemployment and exploitation. Features indicating the strength and location of people’s social connections in Dar es Salaam before they moved (‘pull factors’) were found to be most predictive, more so than traditional ‘push factors’ such as proxies for poverty in the migrant’s source region…(More)”.

Selected Readings on Digital Self-Determination for Migrants


By Uma Kalkar, Marine Ragnet, and Stefaan Verhulst

Digital self-determination (DSD) is a multidisciplinary concept that extends self-determination to the digital sphere. Self-determination places humans (and their ability to make ‘moral’ decisions) at the center of decision-making actions. While self-determination is considered as a jus cogens rule (i.e. a global norm), the concept of digital self-determination came only to light in the early 2010s as a result of the increasing digitization of most aspects of society. 

While digitalization has opened up new opportunities for self-expression and communication for individuals across the globe, its reach and benefits have not been evenly distributed. For instance, migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to the deepening inequalities and power structures brought on by increased digitization, and the subsequent datafication. Further, non-traditional data, such as social media and telecom data, have brought great potential to improve our understanding of the migration experience and patterns of mobility that can provide more targeted migration policies and services yet it also has brought new concerns related to the lack of agency to determine how the data is being used and who determines the migration narrative.

These selected readings look at DSD in light of the growing ubiquity of technology applications and specifically focus on their impacts on migrants. They were produced to inform the first studio on DSD and migration co-hosted by the Big Data for Migration Alliance and the International Digital Self Determination Network. The readings are listed in alphabetical order.

These readings serve as a primer to offer base perspectives on DSD and its manifestations, as well as provide a better understanding of how migration data is managed today to advance or hinder life for those on the move. Please alert us of any other publication we should include moving forward.

Berens, Jos, Nataniel Raymond, Gideon Shimshon, Stefaan Verhulst, and Lucy Bernholz. “The Humanitarian Data Ecosystem: the Case for Collective Responsibility.” Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, 2017.

  • The authors explore the challenges to, and potential solutions for, the responsible use of digital data in the context of international humanitarian action. Data governance is related to DSD because it oversees how the information extracted from an individual—understood by DSD as an extension of oneself in the digital sphere—is handled.
  • They argue that in the digital age, the basic service provision activities of NGOs and aid organizations have become data collection processes. However, the ecosystem of actors is “uncoordinated” creating inefficiencies and vulnerabilities in the humanitarian space.
  • The paper presents a new framework for responsible data use in the humanitarian domain. The authors advocate for data users to follow three steps: 
  1. “[L]ook beyond the role they take up in the ‘data-lifecycle’ and consider previous and following steps and roles;
  2. Develop sound data responsibility strategies not only to prevent harm to their own operations but also to other organizations in the ‘data-lifecycle;’ and, 
  3. Collaborate with and learn from other organizations, both in the humanitarian field and beyond, to establish broadly supported guidelines and standards for humanitarian data use.”

Currion, Paul. “The Refugee Identity.Caribou Digital (via Medium), March 13, 2018.

  • Developed as part of a DFID-funded initiative, this essay outlines the Data Requirements for Service Delivery within Refugee Camps project that investigated current data standards and design of refugee identity systems.
  • Currion finds that since “the digitisation of aid has already begun…aid agencies must therefore pay more attention to the way in which identity systems affect the lives and livelihoods of the forcibly displaced, both positively and negatively.” He argues that an interoperable digital identity for refugees is essential to access financial, social, and material resources while on the move but also to tap into IoT services.
  • However, many refugees are wary of digital tracking and data collection services that could further marginalize them as they search for safety. At present, there are no sector-level data standards around refugee identity data collection, combination, and centralization. How can regulators balance data protection with government and NGO requirements to serve refugees in the ways they want to uphold their DSD?
  • Currion argues that a Responsible Data approach, as opposed to a process defined by a Data Minimization principle, provides “useful guidelines” but notes that data responsibility “still needs to be translated into organizational policy, then into institutional processes, and finally into operational practice. He further adds that “the digitization of aid, if approached from a position that empowers the individual as much as the institution, offers a chance to give refugees back their voices.”

Decker, Rianne, Paul Koot, S. Ilker Birbil, Mark van Embden Andres. “Co-designing algorithms for governance: Ensuring responsible and accountable algorithmic management of refugee camp supplies” Big Data and Society, April 2022. 

  • While recent literature has looked at the negative impacts of big data and algorithms in public governance, claiming they may reinforce existing biases and defy scrutiny by public officials, this paper argues that designing algorithms with relevant government and society stakeholders might be a way to make them more accountable and transparent. 
  • It presents a case study of the development of an algorithmic tool to estimate the populations of refugee camps to manage the delivery of emergency supplies. The algorithms included in this tool were co-designed with relevant stakeholders. 
  • This may provide a way to uphold DSD by  contributing to the “accountability of the algorithm by making the estimations transparent and explicable to its users.”
  • The authors found that the co-design process enabled better accuracy and responsibility and fostered collaboration between partners, creating a suitable purpose for the tool and making the algorithm understandable to its users. This enabled algorithmic accountability. 
  • The authors note, however, that the beneficiaries of the tools were not included in the design process, limiting the legitimacy of the initiative. 

European Migration Network. “The Use of Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence in Migration Management.” EMN-OECD Inform Series, February 2022.

  • This paper explores the role of new digital technologies in the management of migration and asylum, focusing specifically on where digital technologies, such as online portals, blockchain, and AI-powered speech and facial recognition systems are being used across Europe to navigate the processes of obtaining visas, claiming asylum, gaining citizenship,  and deploying border control management. 
  • Further, it points to friction between GDPR and new technologies like blockchain—which by decision does not allow for the right to be forgotten—and potential workarounds, such as two-step pseudonymisation.
  • As well, it highlights steps taken to oversee and open up data protection processes for immigration. Austria, Belgium, and France have begun to conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments; France has a portal that allows one to request the right to be forgotten; Ireland informs online service users on how data can be shared or used with third-party agencies; and Spain outlines which personal data are used in immigration as per the Registry Public Treatment Activities.
  • Lastly, the paper points out next steps for policy development that upholds DSD, including universal access and digital literacy, trust in digital systems, willingness for government digital transformations, and bias and risk reduction.

Martin, Aaron, Gargi Sharma, Siddharth Peter de Souza, Linnet Taylor, Boudewijn van Eerd, Sean Martin McDonald, Massimo Marelli, Margie Cheesman, Stephan Scheel, and Huub Dijstelbloem. “Digitisation and Sovereignty in Humanitarian Space: Technologies, Territories and Tensions.” Geopolitics (2022): 1-36.

  • This paper explores how digitisation and datafication are reshaping sovereign authority, power, and control in humanitarian spaces.
  • Building on the notion that technology is political, Martin et al. discuss three cases where digital tools powered by partnerships between international organizations and NGOs and private firms such as Palantir and Facebook have raised concerns for data to be “repurposed” to undermine national sovereignty and distort humanitarian aims with for-profit motivations.
  • The authors draw attention to how cyber dependencies threaten international humanitarian organizations’ purported digital sovereignty. They touch on the tensions between national and digital sovereignty and self-governance.
  • The paper further argues that the rise of digital technologies in the governance of international mobility and migration policies “has all kinds of humanitarian and security consequences,” including (but not limited to) surveillance, privacy infringement, profiling, selection, inclusion/exclusion, and access barriers. Specifically, Scheel introduces the notion of function creep—the use of digital data beyond initially defined purposes—and emphasizes its common use in the context of migration as part “of the modus operandi of sovereign power.”

McAuliffe, Marie, Jenna Blower, and Ana Beduschi. “Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence in Migration and Mobility: Transnational Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Societies 11, no. 135 (2021): 1-13.

  • This paper critically examines the implications of intensifying digitalization and AI for migration and mobility systems in a post- COVID transnational context. 
  • The authors first situate digitalization and AI in migration by analyzing its uptake throughout the Migration Cycle, i.e. to verify identities and visas, “enable “smart” border processing,” and understand travelers’ adherence to legal frameworks. It then evaluates the current challenges and opportunities to migrants and migration systems brought about by deepening digitalization due to COVID-19. For example, contact tracing, infection screening, and quarantining procedures generate increased data about an individual and are meant, by design, to track and trace people, which raises concerns about migrants’ safety, privacy, and autonomy.
  • This essay argues that recent changes show the need for further computational advances that incorporate human rights throughout the design and development stages, “to mitigate potential risks to migrants’ human rights.” AI is severely flawed when it comes to decision-making around minority groups because of biased training data and could further marginalize vulnerable populations and intrusive data collection for public health could erode the power of one’s universal right to privacy. Leaving migrants at the mercy of black-box AI systems fails to uphold their right to DSD because it forces them to relinquish their agency and power to an opaque system.

Ponzanesi, Sandra. “Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: (Re)Mapping Connectivity and Belonging.” Television & New Media 20, no. 6 (2019): 547-557.

  • This article explores the role of new media technologies in rethinking the dynamics of migration and globalization by focusing on the role of migrant users as “connected” and active participants, as well as “screened” and subject to biometric datafication, visualization, and surveillance.
  • Elaborating on concepts such as “migration” and “mobility,” the article analyzes the paradoxes of intermittent connectivity and troubled belonging, which are seen as relational definitions that are always fluid, negotiable, and porous.
  • It states that a city’s digital infrastructures are “complex sociotechnical systems” that have a functional side related to access and connectivity and a performative side where people engage with technology. Digital access and action represent areas of individual and collective manifestations of DSD. For migrants, gaining digital access and skills and “enacting citizenship” are important for resettlement. Ponzanesi advocates for further research conducted both from the bottom-up that leans on migrant experiences with technology to resettle and remain in contact with their homeland and a top-down approach that looks at datafication, surveillance, digital/e-governance as a part of the larger technology application ecosystem to understand contemporary processes and problems of migration.

Remolina, Nydia, and Mark James Findlay. “The Paths to Digital Self-Determination — A Foundational Theoretical Framework.” SMU Centre for AI & Data Governance Research Paper No. 03 (2021): 1-34.

  • Remolina and Findlay stress that self-determination is the vehicle by which people “decide their own destiny in the international order.” Decision-making ability powers humans to be in control of their own lives and excited to pursue a set of actions. Collective action, or the ability to make decisions as a part of a group—be it based on ethnicity, nationality, shared viewpoints, etc.—further motivates oneself.
  • The authors discuss how the European Union and European Court of Human Rights’ “principle of subsidiarity” aligns with self-determination because it advocates for power to be placed at the lowest level possible to preserve bottom-up agency with a “reasonable level of efficiency.” In practice, the results of subsidiarity have been disappointing.
  • The paper provides examples of indigenous populations’ fight for self-determination, offline and online. Here, digital self-determination refers to the challenges indigenous peoples face in accessing growing government uses of technology for unlocking innovative solutions because of a lack of physical infrastructure due to structural and social inequities between settler and indigenous communities.
  • Understanding self-determination—and by extension, digital self-determination as a human right, the report investigates how autonomy, sovereignty, the legal definition of a ‘right,’ inclusion, agency, data governance, data ownership, data control, and data quality.
  • Lastly, the paper presents a foundational theoretical framework that goes beyond just protecting personal data and privacy. Understanding that DSD “cannot be detached from duties for responsible data use,” the authors present a collective and individual dimension to DSD. They extend the individual dimension of DSD to include both my data and data about me that can be used to influence a person’s actions through micro-targeting and nudge techniques. They update the collective dimension of DSD to include the views and influences of organizations, businesses, and communities online and call for a better way of visualizing the ‘social self’ and its control over data.

Ziebart, Astrid, and Jessica Bither. “AI, Digital Identities, Biometrics, Blockchain: A Primer on the Use of Technology in Migration Management.” Migration Strategy Group on International Cooperation and Development, June 2020.

  • Ziebart and Bither note the implications of increasingly sophisticated use of technology and data collection by governments with respect to their citizens. They note that migrants and refugees “often are exposed to particular vulnerabilities” during these processes and underscore the need to bring migrants into data gathering and use policy conversations.  
  • The authors discuss the promise of technology—i.e., to predict migration through AI-powered analyses, employ technologies to reduce friction in the asylum-seeking processes, and the power of digital identities for those on the move. However, they stress the need to combine these tools with informational self-determination that allows migrants to own and control what data they share and how and where the data are used.
  • The migration and refugee policy space faces issues of “tech evangelism,” where technologies are being employed just because they exist, rather than because they serve an actual policy need or provide an answer to a particular policy question. This supply-driven policy implementation signals the need for more migrant voices to inform policymakers on what tools are actually useful for the migratory experience. In order to advance the digital agency of migrants, the paper offers recommendations for some of the ethical challenges these technologies might pose and ultimately advocates for greater participation of migrants and refugees in devising technology-driven policy instruments for migration issues.

On-the-go interesting resources 

  • Empowering Digital Self-Determination, mediaX at Stanford University: This short video presents definitions of DSD, and digital personhood, identity, and privacy and an overview of their applications across ethics, law, and the private sector.
  • Digital Self-Determination — A Living Syllabus: This syllabus and assorted materials have been created and curated from the 2021 Research Sprint run by the Digital Asia Hub and Berkman Klein Center for Internet Society at Harvard University. It introduces learners to the fundamentals of DSD across a variety of industries to enrich understanding of its existing and potential applications.
  • Digital Self-Determination Wikipedia Page: This Wikipedia page was developed by the students who took part in the Berkman Klein Center research sprint on digital self-determination. It provides a comprehensive overview of DSD definitions and its key elements, which include human-centered design, robust privacy mandates and data governance, and control over data use to give data subjects the ability to choose how algorithms manipulate their data for autonomous decision-making.
  • Roger Dubach on Digital Self-Determination: This short video presents DSD in the public sector and the dangers of creating a ‘data-protected’ world, but rather on understanding how governments can efficiently use data and protect privacy. Note: this video is part of the Living Syllabus course materials (Digital Self-Determination/Module 1: Beginning Inquiries).

Co-designing algorithms for governance: Ensuring responsible and accountable algorithmic management of refugee camp supplies


Paper by Rianne Dekker et al: “There is increasing criticism on the use of big data and algorithms in public governance. Studies revealed that algorithms may reinforce existing biases and defy scrutiny by public officials using them and citizens subject to algorithmic decisions and services. In response, scholars have called for more algorithmic transparency and regulation. These are useful, but ex post solutions in which the development of algorithms remains a rather autonomous process. This paper argues that co-design of algorithms with relevant stakeholders from government and society is another means to achieve responsible and accountable algorithms that is largely overlooked in the literature. We present a case study of the development of an algorithmic tool to estimate the populations of refugee camps to manage the delivery of emergency supplies. This case study demonstrates how in different stages of development of the tool—data selection and pre-processing, training of the algorithm and post-processing and adoption—inclusion of knowledge from the field led to changes to the algorithm. Co-design supported responsibility of the algorithm in the selection of big data sources and in preventing reinforcement of biases. It contributed to accountability of the algorithm by making the estimations transparent and explicable to its users. They were able to use the tool for fitting purposes and used their discretion in the interpretation of the results. It is yet unclear whether this eventually led to better servicing of refugee camps…(More)”.

Airbnb enabled a movement to help Ukraine. Free housing is only part of it.


Article by Sarah Roach: “When Airbnb announced its goal to provide 100,000 people fleeing Ukraine with free temporary housing, it received an outpouring of support.

Barack Obama promoted the effort on Twitter, and those who could not offer their help decided to support the cause with donations instead.

Now, about 30,000 hosts have signed up on Airbnb.org, the company’s philanthropic site, to provide free housing, according to an Airbnb spokesperson. That figure is already more than the 20,000 Afghan refugees that Airbnb hosts extended free or discounted housing to last summer. Airbnb.org’s goal of providing housing to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees would equal the total number of people Airbnb.org helped through crises between 2017 and 2021 combined.

The company’s nonprofit arm has been slowly building the infrastructure to support more people escaping natural disasters, war and other crises over the past decade. Airbnb’s work started in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy struck and a host wanted to offer free temporary housing. Shortly thereafter, Airbnb launched a tool that allowed hosts to offer their homes to people displaced by natural disasters. After that, Airbnb began extending free or discounted housing to people fleeing conflicts like the Syrian refugee crisis and disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes. By 2020, Airbnb.org broke off into the company’s own philanthropic arm focused on these efforts…(More)”.