Earlier this month, five postgraduate law students, Cristina Pagone, Simina Radu, Gracia Talabi, Livia de Guilio and Priscilla Peralta spent five days in Athens, as part of the well-established Athens Refugee Project which started in October 2015 to assist with the refugee crisis. This is the fourth time students have spent time in Athens volunteering their work while deepening their knowledge on refugee issues. Athens Refugee Project was established and is run by Professor Alexandra Xanthaki with the help of Brunel Volunteers.
Over the five days, the students learned a lot more of the brutal reality of forced returns by enforcement, public and international officials. Students also had the chance to visit a refugee centre and a refugee detention centre, where they offered well-needed items to the detainees. Finally, students had the chance to volunteer in the Faros Family Centre for refugee families, a precious partner of Athens Refugee Project during these last years. By volunteering, students got a more realistic understanding of the everyday lives of refugee families in Athens.
As well as giving their time, the students donated two computers to the Faros Family Centre to help upskill the mothers and teach the children and underground tickets for the children to get to their after school German lessons. They also gave balls, playing cards, dice, toothbrushes and T-shirts to the detention centre – doubled by kind donations from law firm Blake Morgan.
Prof Alexandra Xanthaki noted: "This is an innovative project that teaches students the implementation (or not) of law, while addressing the current challenges of the society. We have been honoured to receive congratulations for our work from the Greek state in the past but nothing compares to a chat, a smile and even a giggle from the refugee individuals we meet in Athens."
Another visit is planned for next November. Brunel Law School is launching next year a much anticipated MA in Migration Law, Policy and Practice which is developed and delivered in partnership with the Greek Ombudsman on Human Rights.
The photo above shows our students left to right, Simina Radu, Livia de Guilio, Gracia Talabi, Cristina Pagone, Priscilla Peralta.