Protecting the rights of refugees in Turkey by engaging with and building capacity of advocates in the region.
Turkey hosts some 80K asylum-seekers from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia, as well as a million displaced Syrians, making it the 5th most significant host country in the world according to UNHCR Annual Trends 2013. At the same time, driven in part by EU accession efforts, Turkey is undergoing a major transition in asylum and migration law. While the government finds support to establish a new agency and judicial structure, the small refugee rights movement needs help to secure the rights of thousands who enter Turkey each year seeking international protection. Ensuring legal status is a vital first step in accessing other basic services and ultimately a long-term solution, often in the form of resettlement to a third-country.
Formed in February 2012, RSN mobilizes financial and human resources to increase capacity of the legal field in Turkey to respond to growing refugee needs. Rather than providing direct services in Turkey, RSN will build capacity of actors who do, by creating fellowships, study visits, and professional exchange opportunities. RSN will introduce and implement organizational models from the US and around the world, such as law school clinics that partner with NGOs to offer free legal assistance to asylum-seekers, while also training a generation of new refugee lawyers. RSN will develop a pro bono culture and a pro bono clearinghouse. RSN creates media for American audiences to understand the importance of Turkey in global migration as well as reports that can be used in advocacy in the US and in Turkey.
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