New York City law student offers legal aid to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, returns today from two-week trip to AmmanJanuary 8th, 2009
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New York City law student offers legal aid to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, returns today from two-week trip to Amman
NEW YORK -- Sally Newman, 26, of Brooklyn, skipped the Times Square ball drop this past New Year's Eve.
Instead, the third-year New York University law student spent the holiday across the world in Jordan on a two-week trip helping Iraqi refugees displaced by the Iraq War there to access their legal benefits, often nearly impossible to obtain without legal experts to wade through various international regulations.
Newman, who returns today from the trip (organized by The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project based at Yale Law), and other law students from Harvard, Berkeley and Yale law schools met with Jordanian government ministers, academic leaders and grassroots aid organizations to learn the scope of the Iraqi refugee community there, which numbers about 500,000. They partnered with individual refugees to help them navigate United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and U.S. refugee regulations. Newman worked closely with an Iraqi client who'd experienced sexual assault, religious persecution and stalking after leaving Iraq. (Read Newman's blog posts about her experiences here).
"Iraqi refugees face much more than displacement," said Newman, a member of the women's peace group CODEPINK. "Because there are hundreds of thousands of people who had to leave, it's a total breakdown of the social fabric. There are huge mass psychological effects of displacement, from widespread fear and suspicion, domestic violence, unemployment, no access to birth control, fear and lack of faith in authority."
An outspoken critic of the Iraq War for the past six years, Newman thought offering her legal services would be the best way for her to reduce the impact of war on refugees. She also hoped to convey to them her message of goodwill from Americans, to let them know some people here care for them and would like to help their situation.
"And the more people flee," Newman added, "the more difficult it will be to stabilize Iraq."
Back in the States, she'll continue with her client's case, and plans to attract other New York City students and attorneys to join the project. She also hopes to share with Americans their experiences.
Newman said, "I have a renewed sense of urgency."
To speak with Newman about her work in Jordan and Iraqi refugees, please call 917-544-5604 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CODEPINK, founded in 2002, is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into health care, education and other life-affirming activities. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence. For more info, visit www.codepinkalert.org.