This week marks the sixth anniversary of ELIL’s foundation on Lesvos. Our project aimed to meet a pressing need: providing free legal support to asylum seekers ahead of their first-instance interview.
Since then, we have worked hard to meet people’s needs in a changing context. ELIL opened an office in Athens one year ago, where our dedicated team has assisted more than 1000 people, a quarter of them children, providing expert, tailored legal support for more than 360 cases.
This month, we launched of a new ELIL office in Thessaloniki. In 2021, for the first time since our work started, the number of asylum seekers crossing the land border with Turkey in the north of Greece exceeded that of people arriving by sea. With few legal assistance actors remaining in the region and a growing demand for support, we believe that this constitutes a key step towards safeguarding the legal rights of asylum seekers in the country. Building on the success of our Athens project, our teams will continue to act with speed to assist and inform those who need it the most.
We are also proud to announce the upcoming launch of the The Ukraine Pro Bono Collaborative (UPBC), a Warsaw-based project that will see locally-qualified Polish pro bono lawyers providing legal assistance to people arriving from Ukraine. With thousands of refugees still fleeing the conflict each day, there is an unmet demand for basic legal information as well as specialised support for individuals with more complicated legal situations.
With thousands of people navigating an increasingly complex asylum process, the work we do remains vitally important. The impact is clear: if an asylum seeker is able to receive assistance and information from our legal teams before their asylum interview, they are more than twice as likely to receive a positive decision.