Adam Rosser, a Co-founder and Director of SoS, is a Washington, D.C.-based immigration lawyer and Partner with the international law firm of Hunton & Williams LLP. As an immigration lawyer, Adam immediately recognized the critical need for legal aid projects in Greece as early as November 2015 when he was volunteering on Lesvos. Today, the need for organized and professional legal aid efforts to assist refugees is needed more than ever. SoS is a 501(c)(3) corporation, and therefore all donations by U.S. taxpayers are tax exempt.
More than 50,000 refugees are stuck in dozens of camps throughout Greece with all borders to Europe sealed shut. Thousands of these refugees are detained in prison camps on the Greek islands, suffering under inhumane conditions, all for the “crime” of fleeing war and persecution. Unaccompanied minors, disabled persons, pregnant women, and infants are not receiving the care that is required under any concept of international law and common decency we would expect within western civilization. While the need for food and clothing and medical care still exists throughout Greece, we are hearing time and again that one of the most pressing concerns for refugees is legal information and direct assistance with the asylum, relocation, and family reunification procedures. Many refugees on the Greek islands also need critical assistance fighting deportation back to Turkey.
On March 18, 2016, Greece declared Turkey a “safe third country” and the two countries agreed that refugees arriving in Greece would be returned to Turkey. This agreement has been universally declared unlawful by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and virtually every other organization that understands the basic international framework for the treatment of persons fleeing war and persecution. This illegal agreement must be challenged at each level. But the most profound challenges to blatant illegality to human rights have always begun at the ground level, at the place where individuals have yet to become faceless numbers, where compassion and personal interaction are the driving forces behind constant and effective humanitarian aid.
At the same time, all of the borders from Greece to other European countries have been closed. Nearly 50,000 refugees are stuck in Greece at makeshift camps, unsure of how long they will be there or what options they have.
Adam Rosser has been working closely with a small but rapidly growing NGO on Lesvos called Advocates Abroad (www.advocatesabroad.org). Founded by Ariel Ricker, an American Human Rights lawyer, Advocates is comprised of a working group of more than 80 lawyers from Turkey, Greece, other EU member states, and the Americas. The membership of this working group includes, among others, prominent EU asylum law experts, academics in human rights, and licensed and qualified foreign lawyers. Through social media, weekly Skype calls and in-person meetings, these professionals are actively monitoring, discussing and analyzing the shifting legal landscapes in Greece and Turkey. Most importantly, working under the supervision of locally licensed attorneys, more than a dozen Advocates lawyers and staff serve on the ground in both Greece and Turkey as legal and non-legal advocates for detained and uninformed asylum seekers. They provide critical information of the country's asylum procedures, offer preparation for first and second instance asylum interviews, advocate for humane standards in all detention camps, and connect trailing and separated individuals with their families and other embassies across the EU.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that ALL refugees in Greece receive effective one-on-one legal assistance, understand their rights and the procedures that they will be subject to, and receive basic protections guaranteed under international, European Union, and Greek law. Your donation to support Advocates Abroad will play an important role in realizing this goal. These lawyers volunteer their time. They need the resources to carry out their work. Since the lawyers and support staff are working for free, donations will be used to cover transportation between the islands and to Turkey (usually by ferry), and mainland Greece when needed, in addition to basic housing, simple Greek meals, court filing fees, internet data, office supplies, and similar expenses necessary to perform this work. A donation of just $100 can support a lawyer for several days and allow him or her to provide critical legal aid to dozens if not hundreds of refugees. A donation of $500 can support one lawyer and assistant for a week, including ferry expenses to travel between the different islands and detention centers as needed. $1,000 can support a small team of 3-4 legal professionals operating inside a detention camp for at least one full week. All donations made to this fund at this time will be transferred directly to Advocates Abroad.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for supporting this critical initiative.