Origins of Advocates Abroad
The current refugee crisis in Europe is the result of a multi-layered and international entanglement of political, social, and legal factors. Today, as a result, 64,000 asylum seekers wait in stressful limbo in Greek camps and reception centers.
Pop up NGOs, independent volunteers, and other organic groups have been a strong and visible element in this crisis. Their service ranges from feeding thousands daily to search and rescue operations. This network of experienced and professional humanitarians was the basis of teams of attorneys and asylum experts when the call for frontlines legal aid came in 2016.
Advocates Abroad is one result of this multinational network of volunteer aid workers.
Advocates Abroad: Greece
In early 2016, as European state borders began showing signs of previous stringency, desperation grew among the still-travelling refugees of all nationalities . There grew an urgent need for reliable information on asylum and family reunification procedures among refugees, volunteers, NGOs, and IGOs.
Thousands of temporary tents were erected in the mud and snow next to the sole official border crossing at Idomeni. Information on when the border would open next was as highly valued as a blanket during these chilly months.
In response to this catastrophe of indignity and despair, Advocates Abroad was created. The purpose of Advocates today remains as focused and critical as in February 2016.
Advocates Abroad: Turkey
The EU-Turkey deal quickly restored traditional stringency to border control practices, which left many families separated, often with one family member in the EU and the others in Turkey. Advocates Abroad accordingly set up a field team in Turkey.
This team established a basic legal aid network available at border crossings and heavy refugee provinces for confused and vulnerable refugees. Advocates in Turkey continue to promote social integration and the use of international protection schemes in order to discourage the dangerous sea crossing to Greece.
Who We Are Now
Legal Aid Field Teams
Advocates are trained to operate in crisis situations to provide reliable, timely, and accurate legal aid. Accordingly, field teams can be found in formal and informal settings, providing legal and non-legal aid for groups or individuals.
Advocates frequently host info sessions on hot topics and questions of the day for refugees and volunteers. Advocates also provide multilingual "know your rights" pamphlets during these sessions and upon request.
In addition, Advocates respond to, and report, human rights abuses and legal violations, provide support in asylum interviews, and encourage the appeals of rejected second instance claims. Greek Advocate attorneys additionally provide court representation for asylum related claims.
Medical Advocacy Field Teams
Due to the increasing number of health related deaths and requests for medical aid from refugees, Advocates has recently unveiled a new field based team of doctors, attorneys, and interpreters. This team focuses its efforts on supporting refugee patients and to ensure they receive the medical attention to which they are due in public hospitals and clinics in five regions of Greece.
Remote & Research Teams
These teams primarily offer dedicated support to the field teams. These teams monitor the Advocates Abroad open Facebook page and assist on all questions submitted. They also monitor the legal aid request email account to ensure the timely response of field teams to these electronic requests.
This program ensures that even non-field based Advocates have the opportunity to directly correspond with, and assist, refugees in need.
Remote teams are qualified attorneys who may join a field during a work holiday or sabbatical. This fluidity ensures Advocates remain informed on ground level policies and well connected to clients and each other.
Research teams are motivated academic professionals capable of efficiently producing research on human rights and legal questions on short notice. All exceptional third year law students are welcome to apply to this team.
Law School Externship Program
To support these teams, and to encourage all young and rising asylum attorneys, Advocates now runs a law school externship program in collaboration with the University of Baltimore Law School for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Human rights are in the most danger on borders where little is known and much at stake.
In these places and times, Advocates Abroad pledges to be present, trusted, and reliable.
Advocates are committed to a code of conduct that supports and safeguards dignity for all refugees and asylum seekers.
Advocates shall not accept any payment or compensation from refugees and asylum seekers.
Advocates shall not discriminate or use selective criteria when providing legal and non-legal aid