AJEM

Association Justice et Misericorde

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Background:

The mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is to help refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon and around the world. In partnership with AJAM, the UNHCR launched a project that serves refugees and asylum seekers incarcerated at the Roumieh central prison in Lebanon.

Details of the project:

This project was set up with the UNHCR in 2009 for a period of one year, and has been renewed twice since then. The UNHCR provides the majority of the funds which are necessary to the execution of the program, while AJAM provides the personnel and the know-how. Furthermore, AJAM completes the budget of the project. Objectives are reset by both entities every year.

Refugees and asylum seekers are extremely vulnerable individuals in the Lebanese population. The situation is even more critical for those of them who are arrested and incarcerated. In fact, these isolated and deprived individuals face tremendous difficulties to obtain new clothes, complementary foods, etc… which are usually provided by the prisoners’ families during visits. Sometimes, they find themselves under the obligation to sell their very few possessions to other detainees. Finally, it is often difficult for their families, being so remote, to visit them in prison.

Therefore, the program aims at helping refugees and asylum seekers to benefit from detention conditions that are at least equivalent to those of other detainees. This consists in giving them access to health care and providing them with basic material goods, social monitoring, legal assistance and psychological support. The mental health of refugees is the main focus of work of AJAM in this project.

In addition, AJAM, in partnership with the UNHCR and other associations, carries out legal lobbying activities in order to amend certain laws that are extremely unfavorable to refugees, by reaching an agreement with the State. Refugees and asylum seekers without papers are systematically arrested during the controls conducted by security forces. Therefore, they remain in prison before their possible repatriation to a host country.

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