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The first UNHCR sponsored legal counselling clinic for asylum seekers and refugees opens in Ankara

Yazı, 23 Mayıs 2016

General Coordinator of ASAM Mr. İbrahim Vurgun Kavlak, UNHCR Deputy Representative in Turkey Mr. Paolo Artini and Deputy Dean of Law Faculty of Yıldırım Beyazit University Mr. Ahmet Kılınç opening the legal counselling clinic in Ankara.
ANKARA, Turkey, 23 May 2016 (UNHCR) - A legal clinic that extends counselling to asylum seekers and refugees opened in Ankara in May. Established as part of a project co-funded by Turkey and the European Union, the clinic, representing a first in Turkey, will contribute to enhancing awareness of the refugees and asylum seekers on their rights and obligations by engaging law students.

The clinic is a joint initiative of the Turkish Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM) - the national entity responsible for operational asylum matters –, UNHCR, UNHCR’s partner Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) and Yıldırım Beyazıt University in Ankara.

Following extensive training provided by UNHCR, third and fourth grade law students of the university provide legal counselling at the clinic on a broad set of issues including marriage, divorce, custody, birth registration, access to rights and to courts. The clinic has a capacity to accommodate 400 requests in a month thanks to 60 volunteer law students and started scheduling appointments as of 10 May, prioritizing applicants with vulnerabilities.

“UNHCR is extremely pleased that a first UNHCR-supported legal clinic is opened in Turkey as a collaborative effort of a committed Law Faculty and of an experienced NGO, with the full support of the government asylum agency. We hope that this example will be followed throughout Turkey, given the importance of reaching out to asylum seekers and refugees with such vital information” - Paolo Artini, UNHCR Deputy Representative in Turkey, said at the opening of the legal clinic.

In Turkey, the Turkish Bar Associations and NGOs across the country work to provide legal assistance and counselling access to asylum seekers and refugees on their rights and entitlements. Law departments in Turkish universities also contribute to awareness raising activities, by providing information on legal issues including access to justice. In this context, the clinic will also be instrumental in engaging law faculty students, providing the opportunity to combine their theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience while supporting refugees.

Turkey is the country hosting largest number of refugees worldwide. Some 90 per cent of the 2.7 million Syrian refugees registered by the Turkish authorities live in urban and rural setting alongside the host community. Besides, UNHCR has a registered caseload of over 265,000 asylum seekers and refugees, as of April 2016, from some 80 other nationalities who have taken shelter in the country.