Legal Assistance/Protection

HIAS' Office CompoundHIAS' Office Compound

The HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya works on a full time basis in Kenya and through regular missions to Uganda to provide legal assistance to refugees for whom resettlement to a safe third country is the best response to their displacement. HRTK is vigilant and responds not only to the plight of individual refugees but also to the protection needs of certain clusters of at-risk refugees.

HIAS' social worker with clients as they depart Kenya to be resettled

To that end, HRTK is the only entity, other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, able to refer refugee cases for resettlement consideration to the Canadian Government. In cooperation with more than 20 local and international organizations in Kenya and Uganda, HRTK identifies at-risk refugees who may be suitable candidates for resettlement, including survivors of torture and violence, women at risk and unaccompanied or separated minors. Many of HRTK's beneficiaries have endured serious abuse and trauma or present claims of sexual or gender-based violence.
Rather than enduring the dangers of living in refugee camps, many refugees attempt to live in anonymity in Nairobi or Kampala, tolerating risks of arrest, exploitation, and harassment. HRTK works with the underserved refugees living in these urban areas. Apart from the daily struggle to survive, many refugees continue to be pursued by their persecutors in the country of asylum or face hostility from members of their community in exile.

Training facilitated by HRTK

Under these circumstances, the only way to protect many at-risk refugees is through resettlement to a third country. Without HRTK, many of these urban refugees would fall outside the radar of the refugee assistance system.
From 2007 through 2009, HRTK's attorneys submitted 371 cases (approximately 1,270 people) for resettlement and 468 people departed Africa to be resettled in North America.
Separately, HRTK provides training to build the capacity of local NGOs working in partnership with HRTK to identify and advocate for refugees in need of protection. In this way HRTK seeks to strengthen the network of refugee-assistance agencies throughout the region.