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ORAM Calls on Obama Administration to Safeguard 500 Slots for LGBTI Refugees out of the 10,000 Announced Yesterday September 11, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 11th, 2015 CONTACT: Kristofer Eisenla, LUNA+EISENLA media | 202-670-5747 (mobile)

ORAM Calls on Obama Administration to Safeguard 500 Slots for LGBTI Refugees out of the 10,000 Announced Yesterday

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Neil Grugras, executive director of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration (ORAM), applauded the Obama administration for yesterday’s announcement that the United States will embrace 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.

“The fact that the United States will now start accepting more refugees is a very welcome development,” said Grungras. “Also, we urge the Administration to hold 500 of those slots for vulnerable LGBTI refugees like Subhi Nahas, who are escaping extremely treacherous countries. Of course the number announced yesterday should be additional to the current annual refugee quota.”

Nahas, a gay Syrian, described what life was like for him in Syria and the dangers he faced there, at a historic meeting on LGBT human rights at the United Nations Security Council on August 24. Last month’s U.N. meeting was spearheaded by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power along with U.N. Ambassador Cristian Barros Melet of Chile.

Nahas recently resettled in the U.S. with the help of ORAM and is now an advocate for LGBT and other vulnerable refugees and the organization’s systems administrator.

Nahas is one of the lucky refugees. He is one of less than 100 LGBTI refugees, according to Power, out of the nearly 70,000 refugees in total, who made it to the U.S. in 2014, according to the U.S. State Department.

“We urge the administration to take a brave, bold step and for the first time set aside a target of 500 slots for LGBTI refugees out the 10,000 announced yesterday,” continued Grungras.

There are at least 400 self-identified LGBT Syrian refugees currently in Turkey, a temporary host country – with thousands more in hiding. LGBT Syrians have also escaped to Lebanon, Jordan and other countries.

Grungras called for the U.S. to work closely with ORAM and other refugee organizations who have earned the trust of the LGBTI refugee community.

“A lesbian sitting in Turkey or Lebanon is very unlikely to come out to any organization unless she’s sure it’s LGBT-friendly. She’ll be terrified to be judged or worse by the refugee professionals charged with protecting her. She needs someone she trusts to hold her hand and say ‘You are completely safe with me’,”concluded Grungras.

LGBT refugees are persecuted by their families, their communities and their governments. They are also commonly abused by fellow refugees. Many report being excluded from refugee protection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

ORAM has directly trained over 1,500 refugee professionals working in United Nations, government and community-based agencies in 14 countries, who have together assisted over a million refugees. Thousands of refugee and asylum workers around the world utilize ORAMs tools and resources, which have benefitted 5 million people in the past five years.

Select Media Coverage of the U.N. Security Council LGBT Meeting: New York Times: Gay and Marked for Death Voice of America: Gay Men Tell UN Security Council of Being IS Targets Buzzfeed: Two Gay Men Who Fled ISIS Just Made U.N. History The Washington Blade: Islamic State focus of U.N. Security Council’s first LGBT meeting HuffPost “Gay Voices”: Making History: Telling My Story to the U.N. Security Council Reuters: Gay men tell UN Security Council of being Islamic State targets

About the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM) ORAM is an international organization devoted to capacity-building and advocacy on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, including those fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

ORAM delivers highly innovative research, tools, trainings and empirically based assessment programs to refugee professionals and institutions around the world. ORAM’s programs and activities are designed to uphold the integrity of the international refugee system, in turn giving exceptionally vulnerable refugees the protection they need and deserve.

You can read more about ORAM’s work by visiting the organization’s website, and social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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