By the by, this blog is not the place to ask for legal advice. Life advice, love advice, recipes, all that’s good, but not legal advice. The one piece of legal advice I can give you on the internet is not to post your damn refugee status on the internet. Also, plead guilty. That always works out well.
Archive for June, 2010
On a side note, all it takes to teach French is a pimpin’ hat. Seriously. Your career as a jetsetting language instructor/ international man of mystery is a quick jaunt to the Castro away.
So I felt like I should finally write a post. So here’s a bit about our place.
It’s… authentic. Like, really authentic. Like nothing actually works authentic. Like “prop-the-fridge-closed-with-the-broken-washing-machine” authentic. But hey, nothing says welcome to Cairo like your bed collapsing under you as you’re sleeping. That was a fun night. Really gets your attention, y’know?
It’s a good place though. Lots of good food nearby, a great juice stand. It’s definitely a chill neighborhood. They don’t mind if you wash your socks in a pitcher and hang them off the balcony (see washing machine, broken, use as doorstop, above).
First, Egypt has got it down with juice. The juice here is LEGIT. This is the juice shop across the street from where I work:
This is my favorite right now. It’s called a cocktail:
Also the Shawarma (Gyro) here is delicious. On almost every corner, you’ll find a place like this:
So I started my first intake interviews a couple of days ago, and began taking clients of my own. The intake interviews are quick 30-minute initial interviews, in which we find out basic info about the refugees and whether or not their resettlement case is strong enough for us to take. If the case is strong enough, meaning if they have any dire needs (legal, physical, violence, torture, medical, gender etc.) and are at critical risk in Egypt, then we schedule follow-up appointments to gather all of the information we need to write a testimony to the UNHCR or the IOM. Scheduling intakes and follow-ups has been hectic here because of the influx of new interns and the lack of space at the office.
RLAP is located in the St. Andrews Compound, but it has no religious affiliation. We help people of all religions:
My name is Frasat Ahmad and I am spending the summer in Cairo, Egypt, working for the Resettlement Legal Aid Project (RLAP). A little about myself: I am a senior Religion major at Haverford, and I have spent the semester in Cairo studying Arabic and Religion at the American University in Cairo (AUC). I found out about RLAP through AUC from professors and friends.
RLAP is a non-profit organization that provides resettlement assistance to Middle Eastern and African refugees (mainly from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, etc.) who are applying for permanent relocation outside of Egypt. The main countries that accept resettlement cases are America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I interview refugees seeking resettlement and prepare their applications and testimonies to be given to the UNHCR and the IOM (International Organization for Migration).
I began my training with RLAP this past week and discovered a lot of unsettling news about the refugee situation in Egypt: According to the UNHCR’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) 2010 Report, the “population of concern” in Egypt is 42,000: 54% are Sudanese, 24% Iraqis, 13% Somalis, and 9% Ethiopians and Eritreans, and all others. This is clearly not true. Other reports (from the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies Program at AUC) show that the Iraqi refugee population in Egypt alone is 150,000, whereas there may be as many as half a million to two million Sudanese refugees in Egypt. However, many of these refugees have not registered with the UNHCR to gain official refugee status in Egypt.
RLAP works only with people who already have been recognized as refugees by the UNHCR and are in the process of applying for resettlement out of Egypt. My role as a legal inters is to emphasize in the refugee testimonies that my clients are at critical risk in Egypt and/or have “particular needs.” Refugees who have legal and physical protection needs, medical needs, are victims of violence and torture, or are women at risk are most prone to gain resettlement.
My first responsibility in the office was to sort refugees’ requests for interviews with RLAP and determine whether or not their conditions were urgent enough for us to take on immediately. Reading through their requests was truly heart wrenching. Most of the requests were urgent, but we could only choose the ones that were most dire and life threatening. (I can’t discuss the specifics of cases because of confidentiality reasons). These refugees suffer from horrible conditions and the Egyptian government barely does anything to support their needs. Even though RLAP is a tiny organization, it’s still a direly needed source of relief and support for these refugees.
Paul Benjamin ’12 and Frasat Ahmad ’11 are CPGC interns working as legal aids at the Resettlement Legal Aid Project, where they interview Iraqi refugees and prepare their resettlement applications so they can move to safer and more developed countries.