Helping Prospective Belgians Find Shelter and Services

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Lawyers in our Brussels office are partnering with Bureaux d’aide Juridique, the Brussels Bar, and Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, a nongovernmental organization supporting people who are fleeing war, violence, and persecution, to provide pro bono assistance to displaced individuals in Belgium.

Belgium is in the midst of a massive refugee crisis. Due to a lack of shelter, men, women, and children are forced to sleep in the streets while their asylum applications are processed by local authorities. Some of these refugees may live for months without access to housing and other critical resources. The dire situation led to an unprecedented decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to remand Belgium for these degrading and dangerous conditions.

As part of the effort to assist displaced individuals, members of our Brussels team help facilitate the Voyyach Helpdesk to offer much-needed first-line legal services to migrants and connections to immigration lawyers, accommodations, and basic services.

Since its launch in April 2022, the Voyyach Helpdesk has enabled thousands of displaced persons to access adequate accommodations, food, and medical care. Additionally, our lawyers helped draft and submit applications for interim measures against Belgium to the ECtHR, which led to the ECtHR ruling against Belgium and resulted in the applicants being provided with shelter for the duration of their asylum application processing.

Due in part to our volunteers’ contributions, in October 2022, the Voyyach Helpdesk received the PILnet Local Impact Award, recognizing it as the best innovative pro bono legal project with an impact felt at the local or national level. PILnet is a global nongovernmental organization that creates opportunities for social change by unlocking the full potential of the law.