El Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR), the Global Refugee Network (MENA), several members of the GRF Legal Community Pledge, and PILnet are calling for an urgent consultation on meeting legal needs arising from the Afghanistan situation.
Wednesday, 25 August: 8:00 am New York | 2:00 pm CET | 4:30 PM Kabul | 10:00 pm Sydney
There is an urgent need for legal counsel to mobilize to:
- Better understand the legal needs of the Afghan community,
- Better understand legal pathways available and being created across multiple jurisdictions,
- Better understand existing referrals pathways and possibly create or strengthen others.
Afghans inside and outside of the country need legal assistance. Many people in Afghanistan are seeking to urgently evacuate. People from Afghanistan already outside of the country may need legal advice and assistance in relation to their current legal status and options for remaining or moving elsewhere. Family members and other close connections living outside of Afghanistan may want to reunite or help people in Afghanistan to evacuate and reach assistance. Information on where they can go, who they can speak to in each country, and what they can do is critical.
Lawyers, firms, and legal aid service providers are being inundated with requests for legal assistance to help people apply for urgent evacuation and are mobilizing to respond. Many are mobilizing to be in a position to answer questions, provide advice, and assist filling in forms. The situation and legal options are fast evolving, and it is difficult to be track these developments in every jurisdiction.
Among governments, various visa and relocation options are being considered, and some have implemented special measures for Afghan nationals. In some cases, lists of priority cases are being compiled and shared with political leaders.
UNHCR established a website portal with links to key information for those seeking it and it is being updated as information becomes available. UNHCR emphasizes that, “This website does not serve as legal counsel. For all legal questions, UNHCR advises consulting with a qualified immigration lawyer.”
There is a need for legal counsel to mobilize and collaborate to better understand legal pathways that are available and being created, to better understand existing referral pathways and possibly create or strengthen others, and to better understand the legal needs of the Afghan community.
This consultation will discuss:
- Who is identifying legal needs (who is conducting intake and where) and what legal needs are being identified?
- What legal resources are available? Who is in a position to provide legal advice and assistance across jurisdictions? How can referral pathways better connect those identifying legal needs with those who can assist?
- What legal pathways for evacuation/protection country-by-country exist or are being developed (specific to the Afghan situation or otherwise)? How can we stay across these developments and share relevant information.
We will strive for efficiency, space for information sharing, and next steps on better coordination and collaboration. We call for broad participation of all those engaged or seeking to engage in intake/needs identification, referrals to legal aid providers and lawyers, and lawyers/legal aid providers in a position to assist.
Please share this call widely! We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.