Lawyers Against Poverty launch new initiative as 44,440 refugees are displaced each day

10 Oct 2018

The UK-based membership network, Lawyers Against Poverty (LAP) has launched a new initiative to increase awareness of refugee rights issues among the wider legal community and, encourage collaborative action to assist refugees globally. The launch of this new initiative comes at a time when we are currently experiencing the highest levels of displacement on record. By the end of 2017, 68.5m people were forcibly displaced from their homes (with 16.2m newly displaced). It is for this reason action and awareness is now more crucial than ever.

Launched in 2015, LAP brings together lawyers who are passionate about fighting injustice and poverty. At present they have over 100 members, dedicated to supporting those in need and fighting injustice. Their vision is to build a community of lawyers across the world who use access to justice to relieve poverty.

With 44,440 individuals forced to flee their homes each day (in 2017), refugee rights have become an increasingly important issue for LAP and indeed the world. The new initiative will seek to support volunteers in a range of activities in aid of refugees, including:

  • working alongside refugee community organisations to offer refugees ‘right to remain’ workshops on their rights in the UK, and
  • organising events to raise awareness and funds in order to support organisations committed to ensuring free and expert advice and assistance is available to refugees in Greece.

Commenting on this Richard Dyton, partner at international law firm Simmons & Simmons and LAP chair said: "I am impressed by the willingness of, particularly, junior lawyers (and those still studying the law) who reach out to help one of the most vulnerable groups within our global community. To hear from those on the ground dealing with legal issues on a day-to-day basis will be tremendously helpful to give context to the advice required".

The new initiative will be introduced on 15 October 2018 at an event hosted by international law firm Simmons & Simmons. Speakers at the event will include: Professor Alexandra Xanthaki, research director at Brunel University and founder of the Athens Refugee Project, Jared Ficklin, director of the University of Liverpool’s Law Clinic, and Adrian Henderson, leader of LAP’s Refugee Thematic Group. The speakers will share their experiences of volunteer work to assist refugees and call upon lawyers to become members and get involved with the fight against poverty.

Commenting on the initiative, Adrian Henderson, leader of LAP’s Refugee Thematic Group said: “Over the past two years LAP have been focussing on ways in which we, as lawyers can provide the local refugee community with practical information on their legal rights and access to justice. Our aim is to spread this initiative throughout the country, providing the wider refugee network with everyday legal protection through knowledge education and participation.”

While LAP is an ambitious organisation, they have seen great success. In October 2017 the organisation made a contribution of €10,000 to support the Greek Council for Refugees in the delivery of free legal and social assistance to asylum seekers on the island of Lesvos. The donation was used to cover the salary of one lawyer for five months. In this time, the lawyer opened 65 new cases and supplied information, counselling and representation to almost 100 individuals. With more lawyers, they hope to continue their work and have an even greater impact.

Find out more about the event and register here.

Learn more about Lawyers Against Poverty here.

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