The Iraqi LGBT group today welcomed the release by Human Rights Watch of its report 'They want us exterminated' which documents the killing of LGBT people in Iraq, in particular the extensive media coverage it has generated. Much of the information in the report is sourced from Iraqi LGBT members.
"This report underlines what we have been saying since our group's formation in 2006," said Iraqi LGBT spokesperson, Ali Hili. "We have information on over 700 killings including honour killings."
However Hili says that the group, which has 100 members inside Iraq (as well as refugees in neighboring countries) and supports LGBT people through safe houses, offers practical support (food etc.), psychological and educational support, is chronically underfunded.
"We are the only people offering support to our fellow Iraqi LGBT inside Iraq but because we do not have the funds we have had to turn people away," he said.
The group recently published its annual report, available on its website, which showed how the money it receives is spent.
The report explains how it has developed methods of operating clandestinely which are essential for such an operation in the Middle East. Hili is the only visible member of the group and as a result has attracted death threats in his exile in London. He is under police protection.
Recently it received a second substantial donation from a Dutch group. However due to low funding it has had to close safe houses and slow its development plans.
At the same time it has seen very large amounts of money raised in the United States go to a Lebanese group which is supposed to be supporting Iraqi LGBT refugees. Ali says that the refugees, delivered to Lebanon by Human Rights Watch, have in fact been abandoned and some have returned to Iraq because they had no practical support.
"We have been trying to support one refugee who returned to Iraq from Lebanon because his medical needs were not being supported and who is now in danger. Through the United Nations, he has actually been accepted as a refugee by Sweden however it costs $2000 just for him to get back to Lebanon and then there are his travel costs to Sweden on top of that plus organising support in Sweden."
"This is an example of a case where we have great difficulty helping. It also shows something of the real costs involved in actually supporting people. Another example of that would be the bribes we have had to pay to save peoples lives."
"Our group represents Iraqi LGBT - they are our members - and, despite immense difficulties, our group has gained a lot of experience since we were established. Please support us if you want to help save LGBT people in Iraq."
Donations to Iraqi LGBT can be made to the PayPal Account firstname.lastname@example.org .
Or make cheques payable to (IRAQI LGBT) and send them to:
22 Notting Hill Gate
For further information please call ++44 (0) 79-819 59453 or email email@example.com or see http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.
Ali said that the group also welcomed those who could donate their skills.
The Safe Houses Project
IRAQ: Emergency Shelter, Human Services and Protection for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People:
IRAQI LGBT started to establish a network of safe houses inside Iraq in March 2006.
As of today, we have only two safe houses open and running funded by HIVOS a Dutch based human rights organization.
The members of our group inside Iraq urgently need funds to open at least four safe houses. These funds will allow us to keep the four safe houses open and running, and provide safety, shelter, food and many other needs for our LGBT friends inside Iraq. Any funds we receive that go beyond what we need for these four safe houses could be used to open more safe houses in the near future. We desperately need to add more because we have so many urgent cases in other cities. We receive requests for shelter every day, but we are not able to help yet.
Every safe house has around 200 square meters of living space, but harbors 10 to 12 people, so is very overcrowded. The residents are struggling badly because of the shortages of almost all the basic necessities in Iraq.
Rent: We have paid three months rent in advance. The most recent payments were in August. The average rent per safe house per month is $ 600 US Dollar.
Security: We paid the salaries of two guards per house, at $ 200 US Dollar per guard per month.
Other expenses of each house: We have paid $ 600 a month for each house approximately for natural gas and kerosene for cooking, and for food, fuel for generators which provide the electricity supply.
Urgent priority needs: Our priorities at this stage are: natural gas or kerosene for cooking and heating; fuel for generating electricity; food; mobile phones and calling cards; money for transportation to allow residents some freedom of movement; beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillows; cameras; printers; two computers; house supplies, such as cooking pans, dishes, and flatware; some furniture; clean water for drinking and bathing; soap for washing and bathing, tooth paste, razors and of course housing, guards etc.
Amount needed and how it would be spent (per month):
- Natural gas or kerosene for cooking and heating - 50 GBP
- Fuel for generating electricity – $ 300
- Food - $ 600
- Mobile phones, calling cards, and internet café charges - $ 450 etc.
- Transportation – $ 250
- Beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillows – $ 1,300 – onetime payment
- Cameras – $ 100 – onetime payment
- Printers – $ 100 - onetime payment
- Two computers – $ 1,200 - onetime payment
- Kitchen supplies, such as cooking pans, dishes, and flatware – $ 400 – onetime payment
- Some furniture – $ 500– onetime payment
- Clean water for drinking and bathing; $ 250
- Toiletries (soap for washing and bathing, tooth paste, razors etc.) – $ 150