European Lawyers in Lesvos: Call for Volunteers
European Lawyers in Lesvos (“ELIL”) is an independent, charitable non-profit organisation. It was established by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV).
Our team of Greek asylum lawyers and volunteer European asylum lawyers provide free, independent legal assistance to asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesvos. Our lawyers support, and work closely with, their colleagues from the Greek Bar Associations.
There are currently more than 7,000 asylum seekers on Lesvos, the majority of whom are from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these often severely traumatised, ill or injured people have a limited understanding about their legal rights, the complex and ever-changing asylum process and the criteria applied when their applications are assessed. Many attend their asylum interview without having spoken to a lawyer and may be unaware of the possibility of reunification with their family in other EU member states.
We believe that every asylum seeker should be able to receive free legal assistance, from an independent lawyer with experience in asylum law, before their asylum interview. Through our activities, we aim to provide this free legal assistance to as many asylum seekers as possible on Lesvos.
We are one of the few providers of legal assistance on Lesvos and have been operational inside Moria Camp, Lesvos, since August 2016. Since then, we have welcomed 144 volunteer lawyers from 17 countries and provided free legal assistance to over 9,000 people, from 58 different countries.
The team includes up to six volunteer asylum lawyers, a legally-trained project coordinator, two Greek asylum lawyers (one as legal coordinator), two legal assistants and full-time Arabic and Farsi interpreters.
Our main activity is the provision of one-on-one legal consultations to prepare asylum seekers for their asylum interview. We are the only organisation on Lesvos that focuses on providing legal information, practical support and tailored advice to asylum seekers at this crucial stage of the asylum process. We also help reunite families by assisting with family reunification applications under the Dublin Regulation. In addition, we provide three group legal information sessions in Moria each month – each of which is usually attended by approximately 25 people.
We cooperate closely with other organisations, particularly UNHCR, Oxfam, IRC, Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde, who often refer vulnerable individuals to us for legal assistance.
ELIL covers the cost of each volunteer’s travel to Lesvos (up to a maximum of €400) and provides accommodation and a daily allowance of €10 per day to cover expenses.
We are currently welcoming applications from potential volunteer lawyers for any time during the period 1 August – 31 December 2019 (although please do not hesitate to get in contact if you would like to apply for a period outside these dates). For more information about our work, please visit https://www.europeanlawyersinlesvos.eu/. For information on how to apply, please visit https://www.europeanlawyersinlesvos.eu/volunteer/.
All photos: Cord Brügmann/ELIL