Asylum Access was founded on September 27, 2005. From our inception, we have engaged in advocacy at a global level that aims to transform the human rights landscape for refugees in first countries of refuge. Our initial advocacy targeted problems in UN-run refugee status determination proceedings that decide the fate of nearly 100,000 refugees in more than 50 countries worldwide, drawing on the direct, on-the-ground experience of our founding staff and board members who had provided legal assistance to refugees navigating these proceedings in Egypt, Uganda, Turkey, Ecuador and elsewhere.
We launched our first overseas pilot project - a Community Legal Empowerment initiative that trained refugees to provide basic legal advice and advocacy within their own communities - in January 2007 in partnership with the University of Capetown’s refugee legal aid clinic in Capetown, South Africa. In October 2007, we opened our doors in Quito, Ecuador and Bangkok, Thailand.
In 2009, we began work in the refugee camps in the Western Tanzania region of Kigoma, and then in June 2010 we moved our Tanzania operations to Dar Es Salaam. In 2011 we achieved our target number for full capacity across these three offices - 5,000 refugees receiving legal information, advice, and/or representation annually - and began planning for expansion to other countries where refugees are denied their fundamental human rights.