When news of the abduction and torture of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya first surfaced earlier this year, the Canadian charity Rainbow Railroad teamed up with the Russian LGBT Network to help save lives.
Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell released a statement on Friday announcing that the group has successfully helped 31 men escape Chechnya by providing emergency visas and travel arrangements to Canada.
Powell says that although there is still work to be done to save other LGBT people in Russia, the refugees that are now in Toronto face new struggles of their own.
“They are so young, were torn away from their homes, education and employment, and do not speak English,” he said. “They are going to need a community.”
A total of 70 people have escaped from the Chechen camps and into Russian safe houses, and Rainbow Railroad reported that it’s been in contact with 140 people seeking asylum in the country.
Powell jumped on Facebook Live Friday morning to acknowledge the group’s accomplishments and shine a light on the work that still needs to be done.