Fearful LGBTQ Afghans can’t receive money raised for them through GoFundMe ‘due to Taliban control’

Thousands try to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban takes control.
Thousands try to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban takes control.
  • Three queer Afghans living in the US created a GoFundMe to help LBGTQ individuals in Afghanistan.
  • Now, the platform won't let them access the funds "due to Taliban control."
  • GoFundMe first asked for the recipients' names and addresses, and later suggested they donate the money to a large charity instead, the fundraisers said.
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People around the world have rallied to donate to relief efforts to help Afghans amid the Taliban takeover, but the GoFundMe platform has hit some logistical hurdles.

One fundraiser created by three queer Afghans based in the US has raised more than $45,000 to help LBGTQ individuals in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban has taken over the country, queer and trans individuals fear their lives are at risk.

The money raised is meant to help vulnerable people pay for passports, visas, plane tickets, and other costs associated with leaving the country, as well as food and necessities, according to the GoFundMe page.

But when the organizers tried to access the money they raised as of Monday evening, GoFundMe was unable to approve the withdrawal, BuzzFeed News reported.

A GoFundMe spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the platform can no longer transfer money to individuals in Afghanistan or release funds that will be given to individuals in the country "due to Taliban control."

The organizers told BuzzFeed that GoFundMe initially asked them for the names and addresses of the individuals they were trying to help. However, "these are not people living out and proud," organizer Bobuq Sayed said - many are hiding their sexuality in fear of being targeted and killed by the Taliban.

Donating the money to large charities won't have the same impact, organizers said

In a blog post Friday, GoFundMe said its Trust & Safety team was reviewing all fundraisers related to Afghanistan relief efforts "to ensure it's compliant with US and international laws."

Since the fundraising platform cannot release funds meant for individuals in Afghanistan, GoFundMe suggested donating the money to a multinational charity or non-profit - such as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, Concern Worldwide, and Keeping Our Promise - instead.

Sayed, one of the organizers of the LBGTQ fundraiser, told Buzzfeed this suggestion came off as "disingenuous."

"We put our names and accessed our networks to fundraise on behalf of us as individuals. We didn't fundraise for UNICEF, we didn't fundraise for Doctors Without Borders," they said.

Funds allocated to so-called "Goliath charities'' may not reach the people they set out to help with the LBGTQ fundraiser, the organizers said.

"In Afghanistan, there has never been a shortage of aid," Sayed told BuzzFeed. "The problem is not these charities' presence there, the problem is [money] not reaching individuals in need."

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