Established in 2020
Our commitment is derived from the observation that an asylum seeker can be subjected to a life changing procedure without ever receiving personalised legal assistance.
With several years of experience on site, the leaders of the organisation have acquired the necessary knowledge of the asylum procedure and the needs of the persons applying for it.
ELA is the fruit of a lengthy consultation process during which Greek lawyers, partners and organisations have been consulted to find the right course of action.
ELA intends to fill the identified structural gap that exists in the provision of legal aid to asylum seekers by implementing a mobile and flexible legal aid programme.
From January to December 2021,
Why is legal aid important ?
For asylum seekers, it is essential to have access to up-to-date legal information and to receive individualized assistance and advice throughout the procedure, including in the most remote refugee camps.
Without legal assistance, the chances of success in the asylum procedure are very low. Indeed, the procedure is complex and requires the applicant to actively invest in putting together his case and gathering evidence that is often difficult to obtain. In the absence of support mechanisms from the authorities and/or civil society, the asylum procedure is a real obstacle course for these individuals disembarking in a country whose language they do not speak, without support or income; insurmountable difficulties in refugee camps isolated from urban centers.
Getting asylum in the host state means finally being able to start a new life in safety. The applicant, previously living in a precarious situation, uncertain as to her/his legal status (detention, deportation?) then obtains a residence permit to legally reside in the host country. This residence permit also allows its holder to open a bank account, to work, possibly to enroll in the university or to school, to benefit from health care or to marry and start a family. In short, to exist.
We believe that every displaced person fleeing persecution has:
We have made it our mission to enable displaced persons to take informed decisions in the course of their asylum procedure. To successfully carry out this mission, legal aid must be provided in a flexible, mobile and accessible way. ELA is reaching out beneficiaries in and around Thessaloniki and provides them with up-to-date individualised legal assistance in their spoken language.
Our strength: the interview preparation
In order to assess the claim of a person seeking asylum, the Greek Asylum Service (GAS) along with EASO conducts interviews. During those interviews, the protection officers will ask questions about the journey of the person, about the reason he is seeking asylum,… It can last a few hours and sometimes the person can be asked to continue the interview on another day.
Since 7th of June 2021, Greece imposed an admissibility interview to Afghans, Bengalis, Somalis, Syrians and Pakistanis. Indeed this is based on the fact that the Greek government declared Turkey as a “safe third country” for nationals of those countries. Hence, the applications submitted by persons of those nationalities can be rejected as “inadmissible” without being examined on the merits. (learn more about it)
ELA’s caseworkers and lawyers conduct individual mock interviews and inform people of their rights during the interview process. They prepare people on the move to these interviews in order to maximize their chances of getting asylum at first instance. It is possible to appeal a negative decision, but the chances to succeed are very low. Therefore, ELA’s work at first instance is essential.