In 2012, Sayed, a gay Syrian man, was studying in Homs, Syria. In April of the same year, regime soldiers occupied his university and shot at protestors from the student dormitories. Sayed was determined to document the abuses, so he photographed the soldiers shooting at peaceful demonstrators. He was caught. Officials arrested Sayed and brought him to the police station. There, he was viciously beaten until he could not feel his body at all. He was raped violently with foreign objects, and experienced severe pain and bleeding as a result.
Sayed fled to Lebanon, but the trauma of his experience followed him there. He couldn’t walk very far or his knee would dislocate as a result of the beating. He suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, experiencing tremendous and unrelenting fear and anxiety. Twice, he attempted suicide.
Finally, in 2014, a local organization referred Sayed to IRAP. IRAP’s Beirut staff was able to offer him a lifeline. IRAP helped him apply for resettlement via UNHCR and the Canadian government, drafting his referral documents, attending his interview with him, and submitting follow-up requests to expedite his case. We alerted sexual and gender-based violence protection officers at UNHCR when further threats to his safety arose in Beirut. We referred him to a local organization that provides psychological assistance for survivors of torture. And we assisted in his application for a Canadian conjugal partner visa, including submitting a letter attesting to his relationship and the extreme urgency of his situation, which would enable him to escape to Canada to finally reunite with his long-term partner.
In February 2015, Sayed received his conjugal partner visa, and was able to join his partner in Canada. He is once again pursuing his education, working hard to improve his English, and preparing to start a degree in Petroleum Engineering.