A pair of gay Syrian refugees who fled their homeland hand-in-hand were heartbroken to be torn apart – as they were resettled 2500 miles away from eachother.
Joseph Mardelli had fled his homeland to escape war and the rise of ISIS along with his boyfriend Ahmed (who does not want to be identified).
Married refugees are granted the right to be resettled together, but as Syria has never recognised gay relationships, Ahmed and Joseph were processed separately and split apart by the resettlement process.
Mr Mardelli was able to secure settlement in Norway, but his partner is in Istanbul, Turkey – more than 2500 miles away, and still waiting to secure a permanent resettlement.
There is still a strong stigma facing LGBT people in Turkey, and same-sex partnerships are not recognised, meaning the pair will likely be forced to stay apart for years to come.
Ahmed told BBC News: “He is the most important person in my life… he was like the missing part of everything that I wanted.
“I think it’s unfair that gay men don’t have the same opportunities as the straight couples, [who] have their chance to resettle with their families.”
He added: “I don’t know if I’ll be able to be with him.
“I consider the long time that I will be waiting here, I think about it a lot. It is one of the things that keeps scaring me but there’s nothing that I can do about it.”
The pair talk as much as they can via internet video call – and have promised eachother they will be “forever until the end”.
LGBT refugees are technically treated as a vulnerable group by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which processes resettlements.
However, the extreme number of people seeking resettlement means it can take many years.