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At regional training workshops, UNHCR promotes legal aid in its own RSD procedures

June 13, 2008

Since the second half of 2007, UNHCR’s Department of International Protection Services (DIPS) has actively promoted the role of legal aid in UNHCR refugee status determination procedures in regional training workshops for staff from the agency’s field offices.

DIPS has invited legal aid organizations to speak about their work in UNHCR RSD during recent training programs in Nairobi, Damascus and Cairo. The NGOs have included the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, Frontier Association (Lebanon), Africa Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA-Egypt), and RSDWatch’s parent organization Asylum Access.

The regional training workshop cover all aspects of refugee status determination, and typically involve UNHCR staff from countries where UNHCR performs RSD but where legal aid does not yet exist for asylum-seekers.

UNHCR policy has recognized asylum-seekers’ right to have legal representation in RSD since 2003, but some field offices have continued to resist accepting legal aid in their RSD procedures. The DIPS training workshops indicate a more active promotion of legal aid by UNHCR.

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