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    Protecting L.G.B.T.Q. Refugees

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    Letter to the Editor in The New York Times

    To the Editor:

    Re “Refugees Who Need Safety, Fast,” by Annie Hylton and Malia Politzer (Op-Ed, July 22):

    In May, the Women’s Refugee Commission undertook research in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, and met with more than two dozen L.G.B.T.Q. refugees from the region. All had suffered physical and sexual violence in their home countries and in Kenya. Most did not have enough to eat or a safe place to sleep.

    The writers’ suggestions to fast-track or bypass the resettlement process for L.G.B.T.Q. refugees are desperately needed. Yet resettlement alone will not solve their protection needs. They also need immediate protection in the places where they reside.

    In Kenya, for example, a number of local organizations — some led by refugees themselves — are providing urgently needed services and shelter, like safe houses that offer income-generation activities.

    Despite significant challenges, much can still be done to support and protect L.G.B.T.Q. refugees in insecure settings. We can start by funding the agencies that are working hard to protect these vulnerable communities.

    Sarah Chynoweth
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    The writer is founder and director of the Sexual Violence Project at the Women’s Refugee Commission, an NGO based in New York.