In praise of: Refugee Legal Support Athens
Marc Bloomfield
We were delighted to learn that Refugee Legal Support (RLS) Athens won the pro bono award at the LexisNexis legal awards last month.
The RLS Athens legal clinic started life as a four-month pilot project that began in April last year (known as the Athens Legal Support Project). UK immigration lawyers volunteer their time to fly out to Athens and advise refugees on their rights. They are assisted by interpreters, who are also refugees, and two co-ordinators at the clinic in Athens, as well as one in the UK.
Last June, a Legal Action article gave volunteers’ accounts of their work in Athens. Julia Lowis of 3 Hare Court was in the Greek capital for the first two weeks of the pilot, assisting in setting up casework procedures and training interpreters. She said: ‘By giving a voice to refugees, while assisting in advancing their legal claims, the Athens Legal Support Project is helping to meet a desperate human need to which Europe continues to turn a blind eye.’
By November last year, the clinic had helped over 270 refugees with legal advice and assisted in over 90 Dublin III family reunion cases. According to RLS Athens, it has already managed to reunite some families with relatives in other European countries. Volunteers contribute around 80 hours’ pro bono work a week.
The RLS Athens clinic costs around £3,000 a month to run and depends on donations to continue its work. Contributions can be made here.

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A national, independent charity, promoting equal access to justice for all members of society who are socially, economically or otherwise...