Monday, October 14, 2013

Physicians for Human Rights: Asylum Network

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October 8, 2013

Those refugees who cannot return home for fear of persecution are eligible
to be resettled. Of the 10.5 million refugees of concern to UNHCR around
the world, only about 1 per cent are submitted by the agency for resettlement.
  In this photograph, 
Indonesian military forces evacuate refugees of the Ambon
religious riots.  
Photo by Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia
The Physician's for Human Right's asylum network is a team of hundreds of health professionals around the United States that physically examine some of the thousands of refugees assigned by the United Nations to the U.S. each year.

They come from hundreds of different countries, and although they are entitled to resettlement in the country they are sent to, they often become tangled in long and complicated legal processes.

 The asylum network's goal is to find, if possible, physical evidence to corroborate their reasons for seeking asylum and help obtain court approval of their application. The screening process helps put a doctor's verdict behind physical and psychological injuries that are often to subtle to be seen by an untrained eye.

Physicians for Human Rights trains doctors, residents, nurses, and psychologists to perform physical examinations on survivors of torture and other persecution. In September, HoE host Rafiya traveled to the University of Illinois at Chicago to attend a weekend of asylum training. In this episode of Health on Earth, we hear from Dr. Coleen Kivlahan, a family physician who taught us about how to conduct a physical examination of an asylum seeker, and who has been working with asylum seekers over 15 years. We also heard from students from Cornell University who have created the first ever student-run human rights clinic in Ithaca, New York, where medical students assist trained doctors in writing affadavits to support the asylum claims of refugees.

Canada is also a receiver of U.N. refugees. Last year 5,412 Government-Assisted Refugees were resettled by the Canadian government. (source) For more information on pro bono legal resources for resettled claimants in Canada, consult the Fahamu Refugee Program. To find out more about the U.S. Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network, click here.

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