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Week of Action 2022: #EndTheLegalLottery

Updated: Feb 7, 2022


No one chooses to become a refugee. Being forced to flee your home is, more often than not, simply a result of bad luck. Being born in a country where people are persecuted based on their religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity, or where war and conflict mean that people with differing political beliefs are at risk of being killed, is nothing more than a lottery.


At every stage in the process, chance and circumstance combine. Whether that be the odds of surviving a treacherous journey, or even having the opportunity to escape at all, being forced to flee ones home is too often a gamble of life and death.


Disturbingly, even for those who manage to reach a place where they are able to seek asylum, having survived the circumstances from which they fled, the journey, and the often violent pushbacks from authorities at the borders, having access to fundamental legal rights is by no means a certainty. A recent report conducted by Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid, an organisation which SolidariTee has supported since 2019 found on the Greek island of Lesvos, just 3% of people had any access to legal representation (source: quarterly report July 2021).



“In Lesvos, only 3 out of 100 people have access to information before their interview and even less have access to legal representation by an attorney”

- Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid, 2021


The asylum process exists so that people who meet the UNHCR definition of a refugee - in other words, fear persecution in their country of origin - are able to receive international protection, and gain the rights to work, housing, and education in a new host country. And yet the opportunity to live in safety, with access to basic human rights, is all too often denied, even to those who do meet this criteria, simply due to a lack of information and representation within this complex legal process. You wouldn’t want to navigate a divorce, write your will or buy a house without a lawyer’s advice, so how can we expect people to defend their right to safety without any way of knowing the difficult and often specific legal criteria they need to meet? Whilst there is so much about being a refugee we can’t change, there is one thing we can. Our mission is to ensure that everyone has access to the essential services they need to represent themselves and access their rights, during one of the most crucial procedures of a person’s life.


SolidariTee has been fundraising to improve refugees and vulnerable migrants’ access to legal aid and other types of vital, sustainable, holistic support for five years now. In that time, thousands of people have stood with us in support of refugees, and in defense of everyone’s equal right to live in peace and safety, with access to the legal aid, information, and protection services which enable this.

 

In this year’s Week of Action, we're expanding our movement with a new campaign, “Toss a Coin for a Fairer Asylum Process”.


We’re bringing everyone together to stand in SolidariTee by posting an image or video of a coin toss, with the hashtag #EndTheLegalLottery. This can be a skillful flip, or simply an image of a coin on its own - but will show a pound coin (other currencies can be used if you’re based elsewhere, of course!), to represent the realities of the human rights lottery that so many are forced to endure, where the chances of a fair outcome are so reduced. In the accompanying caption, here are some simple statistics to include, to educate and raise awareness on a global scale:



“Almost 1 out of 2 people do not have access to legal assistance during their procedure”


or


“In Lesvos, only 3 out of 100 people have access to information before their interview and even less have access to legal representation by an attorney”


 

We are then asking people to donate that pound to SolidariTee.


You can do this by donating a pound (or an amount of your choice) whilst entering our Week of Action giveaway, which includes a variety of prizes including several from refugee-owned businesses, or by making a one-off donation here.

If we each contribute a small amount, together we can tip the scales towards fundamental rights being upheld for all. By getting involved, you’ll be helping to change the situation for refugees and others forced to leave everything behind, so that in the future, if there’s one thing that isn’t based on chance, it’s being able to rely on access to legal aid. If just fourteen people flip their pound and donate it to SolidariTee, this could be the equivalent of funding a full-time legal case worker for a whole day. If everyone that follows SolidariTee on Facebook did this, we could potentially change the lives of hundreds of refugees, meeting the cost of a full time Greek lawyer working for more than 4 months.


The world’s attention shifts constantly and funding for legal aid has become frighteningly scarce since 2015. To make truly lasting change and build on the momentum of the past 5 years, we need the help of as many people as possible. Since 2019, less than 1% of our funds have been spent on administration, an almost unique position for a charity of our size, so you know your money will be spent wisely and carefully.


Whilst at SolidariTee we have predominantly chosen to focus on funding legal aid, we also support NGOs providing other related types of empowering, long-term aid. If you would like to read more about our NGO partners who we are funding this year (spoiler: it’s not just lawyers, it’s many different types of sustainable, long-term, holistic support for refugee communities), please click here.


Thank you for standing in SolidariTee with all those forced to flee their homes.



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