The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project: A Profile
By Giri Iyengar
There’s a new group in town, one we think you should know about. Under Aseel Barghuthi’s leadership, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) recently launched its GW Law chapter with little fanfare but much success. They had a terrific fundraiser last month at one of DC’s lesser-known hotspots, the Montserrat House on U Street, with DJs and hip-hop artists, both national and local. If you missed it, you missed out. Don’t miss the next one.
IRAP is a national, student-led organization founded in 2007. It provides legal representation and policy advocacy to Iraqi refugees facing dire situations in the Middle East and those seeking resettlement in safe countries, including the US. Currently, IRAP has chapters at over a dozen law schools in the US, as well as at the University of Jordan in Amman.
Barghuthi, the director of the GW Law chapter got involved with IRAP in 2011, when she came across an article about the organization in the New York Times. She reached out to the president and founder of IRAP National, Becca Heller. Heller encouraged Barghuthi to form a chapter in DC. The GW Law chapter is the first IRAP chapter in the DC metro area and has two areas of focus. One takes aim at policy, advocacy and reform; the second is more legal in nature. Law students at GW have been developing the newly established IRAP-DC chapter, and have already begun conducting substantive policy work, including completing a policy paper on the situation Iraqi refugees currently face in Syria. That paper informed several opinion pieces in the New York Times, USA Today and other media outlets.
The GW chapter is aspiring to become the primary administrator of IRAP’s congressional campaign and policy work and will also be extending its charter to include a legal chapter in Fall 2012. The legal work performed by law students will be under the supervision of attorneys from major law firms.
Thanks to their successful fundraiser, and with support from the Student Bar Assocaition, IRAP is sending two GW Law students to Lebanon and Jordan this summer to work with local attorneys on refugee cases. And this is just the beginning. Barghuthi encourages participation from students interested in protecting the rights of the vulnerable and promoting the interests of unrepresented individuals facing dire situations. IRAP presents a great opportunity to perform pro bono and clinic-like work while in school. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
More information about IRAP can be found on the website: http://refugeerights.org.