Stories of Change

A durable, safe solution for Ibrahim and his partner

**TRIGGER WARNING: This story is about someone who was tortured for his sexual orientation.

Same-sex sexual activity is a crime that can result in extreme punishments in the country where Ibrahim* lived. Ibrahim was arrested in late 2016 along with his partner because of their sexual orientation and relationship. They were both detained for two days.

State security officials viciously tortured Ibrahim during his detainment. He was left with physical and mental scars: suicidal tendencies, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, constant fear, neck pain and an inability to carry heavy objects.

After his release, Ibrahim fled the country. Eventually he arrived in a foreign city and connected with a CWS-supported program for refugees. He asked for legal assistance, since he had an interview coming up to determine whether he would be officially recognized as a refugee by the United Nations. Even in this new city, he felt like his sexual orientation made him a target. He asked if the program could help him feel safe.

Our team had an initial conversation with Ibrahim to get to know him and his situation better. They recognized that he was facing extra risks as an LGBTI person, so they made a request to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to expedite his interview process.

Once his interview was scheduled, Ibrahim kept working with our team on his personalized preparation plan. They also helped him get connected to mental health counseling. They provided referrals to other services, too. At each step, they listened to his needs, explained the types of services available and followed his lead on how he wanted to move forward.

Thanks to the help he received from this program, Ibrahim’s refugee claim was fast-tracked. He was officially recognized as a refugee. Even better, after he let the team know that he was in a relationship with another refugee and they wanted to be processed together, the team made sure that the resettlement process would not split up the couple.

In handling refugee claims, the UNHCR looks for one of three durable solutions: return to their home country, integration into their host country, or resettlement in a third country. Ibrahim and his partner were at risk in both their home and host countries, so resettlement was the best option. Because making sure that everyone has a safe place to call home is a core value in CWS work, that’s what the CWS-supported team focused on. We’re happy to say that both members of the couple were referred for resettlement to a safe third country, together.

*This is a pseudonym, used for identity protection.

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our refugee and immigrant work at