UC Berkeley School of Law establishes pro bono support for Afghan refugees

photo of the Berkeley Law School sign
Andrew Huang/Staff
Following the Taliban’s seize of control in Afghanistan, Berkeley Law has established the Berkeley Law Afghanistan Project to offer legal support to Afghan refugees. Berkeley Law alumni founded the pro bono project to aid in refugee immigration pathways and preserving human rights.

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As terror in Afghanistan continues to sweep the streets and more Afghans seek refuge, UC Berkeley School of Law has established a legal support system aiming to help the rising humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Within days of the Taliban seizing control, former Afghan refugees and Berkeley Law alumni Zulaikha Aziz and Roya Massoumi received various pleas for legal support. Having remained in contact with Berkeley Law faculty, they reached out to form what is officially known as the Berkeley Law Afghanistan Project.

The project has two major goals: establishing immigration pathways for Afghans and advocating for human rights by preserving evidence of the Taliban’s abuse, according to Aziz in an email.

“Both Roya Massoumi and I had been involved in efforts providing assistance to Afghans seeking refuge from the Taliban in the first couple of days after they took control of Kabul,” Aziz said in the email. “As Afghan American attorneys with deep ties to both Afghanistan and the diaspora community in the U.S., we were both inundated with requests for legal assistance and guidance.”

Deborah Schlosberg, director of the Pro Bono Program at Berkeley Law, said in an email that she made the announcement of the need for assistance, and within days, nearly 70 students signed up in support of the effort.

Student support will manifest itself in information gathering, analysis, legal research and filing mandatory documents for Afghan individuals they hope to defend, according to Aziz. Many students have already received the necessary training, which includes helping prepare humanitarian parole petitions for those that need the support in Afghanistan, Aziz added.

“We as attorneys and our law students have a responsibility to utilize our skills to provide legal support when we can and a need presents itself,” Schlosberg said.

Aziz stated in the email that the project serves as a beacon of hope for Afghans to live free and happy lives. During a time of crisis for many Afghan citizens, institutions such as Berkeley Law that have the ability to provide support are important, according to Aziz.

Berkeley Law is committed to Afghanistan and preserving the future of Afghans who would still like to be an active member of the larger international community, according to Aziz.

“It is not only a way to help address some of the important needs of Afghans in this moment when they are experiencing is so much chaos, uncertainty and upheaval, but it is also a testament to the commitment Berkeley Law has for advocating for human rights of those most in need, those Afghans in Afghanistan who have worked so hard for their rights and who are looking for international support and solidarity right now,” Aziz said in the email.

Contact Audry Jeong at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @audryjng_dc.