Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Plea from Asylum Access

Asylum Access is a start-up non-profit that helps refugees assert their rights to live safely, work, put kids in school and access healthcare and social services within their first countries of refuge. Through legal aid, strategic litigation, policy advocacy and community education, Asylum Access empowers refugees in Africa, Asia and Latin America to assert their human rights. On paper, international law promises refugees a wide range of rights: access to legal assistance, protection from deportation, freedom from discrimination, liberty of movement, and the opportunity to seek employment, among others. These rights are not mere charity from more privileged individuals, organizations and governments; they are fundamental human rights to which all people are entitled. Unfortunately, these rights are not on-the-ground realities for most refugees. Without access to legal advocates, refugees are unlikely even to know their rights, much less have the power to assert them. Legal counsel and representation enable refugees to obtain asylum or other legal status, which in turn allows them to work, send their children to school, and begin rebuilding their lives. Not only is legal advocacy more efficient and cost-effective than handouts – it also puts dignity and power back in the hands of the refugees. Since starting its first direct legal services project in 2007, Asylum Access has been tremendously successful. With the help of Asylum Access attorneys, thousands of refugees in Ecuador and Thailand pursued their rights to asylum, employment, education and more. Asylum Access also successfully lobbied for the inclusion of refugee employment rights in the Ecuadorian constitution for the first time ever – giving 250,000 Colombian refugees who were formerly prohibited from working the opportunity to seek employment and provide for their families. In June 2009, Asylum Access opened an office in Tanzania. Asylum Access is striving to continuously expand its efforts and increase respect for refugees’ human rights around the globe. Asylum Access is funded by private contributions and government grants and owes its existence to the generosity of donors. If you would like to contribute, please visit http://www.asylumaccess.org/. Because Asylum Access is a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status (Tax ID 20-3642040), your contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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