Iceland Receives Refugees from Africa, America Far Behind

Iceland Receives Refugees from Africa, America Far Behind

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541610782_c3a5d1d115Five LGBT refugees from Zimbabwe, Uganda and Cameroon, and a six-person family from Afghanistan, have been accepted by the foreign minister and the minister of welfare to go to Iceland.

The project was approved by the Icelandic government in September. The municipalities of Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður will receive the refugees, each of whom made an application through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Because of their own country’s harsh anti-gay laws, many LGBT people are escaping into foreign African countries. To receive refugee status, one must go through a long process which can take up to two years. The refugees don’t have any say in which country the UNHCR will place them. During the wait, refugees stay at a refugee camp, “with horrific struggles to survive extreme homophobia at the hands of the heterosexual refugee population, until actually resettled.”

Currently, dozens of Ugandan refugees are waiting in camps in Kenya to hear where they will be placed.

While the United States is ready to receive refugees, it seems to be an extremely slow process, with only two Congolese coming to the Bay Area this month. Blogger Melanie Nathan said because the LGBT refugees are at high risk for being hurt in camps while waiting to be placed, they should be given placement first. Unlike many refugees who seek safety in refugee camps, LGBT refugees can continue living in danger in the camps.

Right now, the UNHCR pace of placing refugees seems to be too slow considering the amount of people and countries prepared to take them. OBLOGDEE is raising money to send to 12 refugees in Kenya struggling to make it in the camps, so they can remain out of the camps until settled.

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