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Refugee group says Ottawa will help bring 600 LGBTQ Afghans to Canada

Immigration department would not confirm the move, citing security risks
Taliban security personnel carry a damaged bus after a roadside bomb blast in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital city of Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. A Taliban official says that a roadside bomb went off near a government bus in northern Afghanistan, killing several people. (AP Photo)

An LGBTQ refugee group says Ottawa is helping resettle 600 Afghans to Canada who are fleeing persecution due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Earlier this week, Toronto-based Rainbow Railroad said it has been able to resettle only four per cent of the nearly 3,800 Afghans who have asked for help coming to Canada since the Taliban took over their country.

The organization complained Ottawa’s resettlement programs don’t account for Afghans persecuted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and who often can’t safely flee to neighbouring countries.

But Rainbow Railroad says Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has since pledged to help resettle 600 LGBTQ Afghans, on top of those who have already reached Canada.

The immigration department would not confirm the move, citing security risks, but says it facilitates the resettlement of specific groups with stakeholders such as Rainbow Railroad.

Human-rights groups have reported an alarming rise in physical assaults, sexual violence and systemic targeting of LGBTQ people in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

—Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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