• The Curious Metisse

Asylos - Asylum Claims Need Evidence

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Well, hello you!

2019 seems to have started yesterday, and yet we are already mid-February. Anyone else feeling like time’s flying by?

I have never been as busy as recently. Commuting included, work eats up over 60 hours of my time per week. I have also now included two-three hot yoga classes within my weekly routine, and I’ve been helping out my cousin by babysitting his two young sons once a week. All in all, during weekdays, I do little else than eat and sleep when I’m at home.

My routine has given me little to no time for extra activities. I now have to consider whether going out is the best move when Friday rolls in, because Saturdays and Sundays are the only days during which I have enough time to clean the apartment, do my laundry, go grocery shopping and meal prep for the rest of the week, and I cannot do any of those tasks with a massive hangover. Is that what being responsible and a grown up feels like? Sometimes it sucks.

Despite my busy schedule, there’s one volunteering activity I haven’t given up on yet, and that’s Asylos. Asylos is a pan-European network of volunteers researching information for asylum claims. More specifically, the Asylos network’s volunteers conducts research on country-of-origin information to help asylum seekers to be granted protection in Europe.

Why is such an organization necessary? Because evidence to prove persecution or to support the credibility of an individual testimony is a vital element in decisions taken to grant or withhold asylum. Unfortunately, asylum procedures, which have been drastically shortened in many European countries, and limited legal aid budgets don’t allow resources or time for sufficient research. As a result, courts have to take legal decisions on the status of asylum seekers without a complete picture of the situation.

Asylos aims to address and fill those gaps. Volunteer researchers investigate specific claims by conducting research in more than 25 languages and gathering relevant information from human rights NGOs, governments, international organizations and international and local media, and interviews with experts, such as NGO professionals in the countries of origin, academics, or journalists. We are thus able to provide valuable information on which lawyers can rely on to build their cases in courts all over Europe.

I cannot tell you how much I value the work that this small non-for-profit organization does. Immigration is part of my history and I couldn’t shy away from it even if I wanted to. My father emigrated to Belgium from the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he was younger than I am now, and has built a life many ‘traditional Belgians’ would envy. He was perseverant, hard working and committed to better his life. I am now myself experiencing the incredible difficulties that immigrants face when trying to settle down legally in a new country, but I know that compared to poorer, less lucky people, the hardship I experience is ridicule, irrelevant even.

I know we live in an increasingly individualistic world in which it gets difficult to think about the other’s well-being when we already struggle to find our own happiness. I get it, I do. It’s easy to close your eyes, not to acknowledge the homeless person that sits around the corner of your apartment building, or those migrants that camp on the fringe of your city. I know we’re always short on money, and on time, and damn shouldn’t our own government prioritize its own citizens before helping out people from the other side of the world? I know all that, and sometimes I feel the same too. But then I force myself to look at the misery that surrounds me, I know I cannot keep quiet. I know I cannot stay warm at home, and buy myself a new smartphone, and think that everything is fine.

If you’re like me, and you wonder what you could do to help, please consider joining Asylos. The organization is always looking for new volunteers to help. Trust me, what you will do for them will have a far greater impact than sharing those click-bait pictures on Facebook. You can conduct all the work from home, and decide when to take on a new case depending on your own schedule. What you will give is much more than your time, it’s a chance for someone to have a fair trial and a better future.

You can find additional information and more on their website by following this link: https://asylos.eu/

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