Just over a year ago, in the cold of an autumn night, darkness lay heavy over Afghanistan. The Taliban had taken control of the entire country a few months before, and LGBTQ people everywhere were in hiding, in deadly fear of torture and death. During the Taliban’s previous regime, LGBTQ people had been executed by toppling walls or being thrown off high buildings, and since the takeover already some gay, lesbian and trans Afghans had been turned in by their neighbors or families to Taliban custody and not heard of again. Worse, the borders of Afghanistan had been closed to the surrounding countries, and police were pushing back those who tried to escape.
“I thought it was the end,” says Talya, a young gay Afghan dancer who hid in a disused factory after the Taliban takeover. “I could see no way out.”
Talya is just one of many Afghan LGBTQ refugees we have helped to reach safety and now lives in Canada.
“When the Taliban came, I thought I would never dance again,” says Talya. “But this month I performed as a professional dancer twice at public events which is something I could never do in Afghanistan. My life is changed forever.”
After the fall of Kabul in July 2021 SCM spent long and sleepless weeks working contacts in Washington in order to get Talya, Dasha and their friends onto an evacuation plane, and many subsequent months liaising with other agencies and organizations to resettle them in Canada.
At present SCM Medical Missions is supporting dozens of LGBTQ Afghans either in hiding or who have fled to neighboring Pakistan, desperately awaiting their chance of safety. However, since late 2021, opportunities for safe relocation and resettlement of Afghans have become vanishingly small. In hugely challenging circumstances, we provide an essential lifeline of aid to those who have nothing, who have lost jobs or who are unable to work under the Taliban. We also help pay for essential ID documents, travel costs, rent and food, as well as finding valuable sponsorship and referral opportunities to safe countries.
We pay large sums of money transporting them to a third country. Once their visas have expired, we must hide them from the police so that they are not arrested and deported. Deportation for some could lead to torture and execution. Once we get them to a 3rd country, we work very hard to entice a western democracy to accept them.
The USA prioritizes their huge backlog of previous employees over other minorities. To apply for resettlement to the USA you must first apply to the UNHCR and receive refugee status before the Americans will begin processing them. This process can take several years. We do not believe most of our refugee friends would be able to survive without being deported.
We have assisted in the resettlement of many of people recently to Canada with the help of IRCC, Rainbow Refugee and Rainbow Railroad. Canada does not require preapproval by the UNHCR and is very welcoming to refugees. If you are Canadian and want to be a sponsor or have Canadian friends who might be interested in being sponsors, we would love to talk with you. Please contact us.
Each private sponsorship group needs to raise about $14,000 to $18,000 US dollars that goes into an escrow account to help the refugee during their first year in Canada. We do our best to help them raise funds.
All this costs money – and with Afghanistan sadly out of the news cycle, donations have dried up. Please help us end the year with a boost to our ability to help these refugees at extreme risk. Your donations will be matched up to $10,000 by a private donor through the end of December. Please help us make the most of this fundraising opportunity and provide even more crucial assistance to the LGBTQ Afghans still in Afghanistan or a neighboring country, waiting, hiding, hoping to make it to safety.
SCM needs your help in so many ways to keep doing this work. Please donate today to the New Life Fund and share this page with whomever you can.
With winter approaching, Afghanistan is soon to go into crisis. Over the next few months, vulnerable Afghans face extreme danger, not just from the hands