ANKARA, TURKEY – Releasing a statement today from a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sponsored training in Ankara, Turkey, Neil Grungras, Executive Director of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration (ORAM), called on the U.S. government not to turn its back on the most vulnerable and most faithful of Syrian refugees.

Grungras released the following statement:

“We cannot turn our back on the most loyal and vulnerable of refugees.  Not only do these refugees deserve our protection, but we also need them on our side, safely on US soil.

“Knee-jerk, political reactions to this complicated situation do nothing but bring about harm to the long-term best interest of the United States of America.  These vulnerable populations of Syrian refugees in Turkey despise the Islamic State.  They’ve watched their loved-ones beheaded, their daughters raped and those they care about hurled from buildings by this terrorist organization.                                                              

“Among these refugees are religious minorities, LGBT persons and Moslems determined to reclaim their faith from the clutches of tyranny.

“The truth is that the U.S. has the most stringent refugee screening process in the world today.  The 10,000 additional Syrian refugees targeted for resettlement in the U.S. in 2016 will be intensely vetted by multiple US intelligence agencies. If the slightest doubt arises, the refugee will be placed on indefinite hold abroad until the case is cleared. If need be, the U.S. has the capability to institute even further interview and investigation-based screening procedures. But to allow politics to drive this decision would be both morally repugnant and harmful to our country’s long-term security interests.”

Grungras is currently in Turkey working to secure safety for a cohort of Syrian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) refugees, some of the most vulnerable refugees facing life and death circumstances, and to train the Turkish government and the UNHCR on LGBT refugee protection.

ORAM is an international non-profit organization devoted to capacity-building and advocacy on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, including those fleeing persecution based on 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.

In September, ORAM and Grungras applauded President Obama’s call for the U.S. to embrace an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.  At that time, ORAM called on the U.S. government to hold 500 of those additional slots for vulnerable LGBT refugees fleeing some of the most treacherous and likely fatal levels of persecution.  He also penned aCNN.com Opinion piece advocating this position.

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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.