Jewish and Muslim NGOs Join Forces to Aid Refugees in Greece



Global Jewish nonprofit NGO HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and Muslim humanitarian aid NGO IRUSA (Islamic Relief USA) announced on Wednesday that they had formed a new partnership to expand legal services for the most vulnerable refugee populations in Athens and Lesvos.

The partnership will ensure that vulnerable migrants in Greece benefit from legal assistance, strategic litigation, and advocacy to advance refugee rights.

The groups seek to help refugees navigate constantly changing asylum procedures, as well as limitations on movement and employment, lack of police protection, and inadequate medical and mental health services that are available to them.

“In 2015, Greece emerged as the most visible focal point of the largest global refugee crisis since World War II,” the groups said in a press release.

HIAS first launched a program for refugees in Lesvos in 2016 to offer direct, individual legal representation to refugees in Greece. Their latest joint venture with IRUSA will expand the capacity and impact of the NGO’s legal team in Greece led by Vassilis Kerasiotis.

In 2017, the team achieved a precedent-setting ruling recognizing the right of a Syrian refugee and a Syrian asylum-seeker to legally marry.

HIAS and IRUSA have been collaborating to advance refugee rights for several years. In June 2017, IRUSA honored HIAS with its Courage Award.

“This powerful alliance between Jews and Muslims demonstrates our shared commitment to refugees,” said HIAS Board member Sandra Spinner. “In this time of divisiveness, I am pleased that we have come together to address the critical needs of the refugees in Greece.

“Our shared values have always been to help some of the most vulnerable populations around the world,” said IRUSA President Anwar Khan.

Sources: HIAS, Jerusalem Post