The International Refugee Assistance Project – IRAP – organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a system of legal and human rights for refugees through a combination of direct legal aid and systemic advocacy.

We are the first organization dedicated to providing comprehensive legal aid to refugees seeking resettlement, providing representation for those who have none and helping vulnerable families and refugees navigate the complex rules and processes of the international resettlement system.

We leverage our work with refugees into advocacy for broad systemic reforms within national and international refugee resettlement processes so that refugees globally may better enforce their human rights.

War and sectarian violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and many countries in North Africa have forced millions to flee for their lives. They now live as refugees, stranded in neighboring countries. Many cannot return to their home countries without risking their lives, forcing them to seek refuge elsewhere. But the process of gaining admittance to the few western countries that accept them is difficult.

IRAP was started in 2008 by graduate students at Yale Law School to provide legal representation and policy advocacy on behalf of Iraqi refugees seeking resettlement. In the years since, 24 other law schools and over one thousand volunteer students, lawyers and advocates have joined the effort to deal with this humanitarian crisis. While we still work heavily with Iraqi refugees, we have expanded to serve refugee populations throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

We have resettled more than 2,000 refugees to eight different countries and achieved major policy changes affecting hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Today, IRAP focuses on urgent humanitarian cases throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including:

  • Iraqis and Afghans persecuted because of their work as interpreters for the US military;
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex individuals in the Middle East and North Africa;
  • Female survivors of sexual assault, domestic abuse or human trafficking;
  • Children with medical emergencies; and
  • Emerging high-risk refugee populations in the Middle East and North Africa, including Syrian, Sudanese and Somali refugees.

Our model pairs law students with supervising attorneys from over 50 law firms and four in-house corporate counsels to form legal teams that work with individual refugees. The model ensures high-quality case performance, engages top firms and law schools in refugee advocacy, trains a new generation of emerging legal leaders in human rights and advocacy, and, finally, secures resources that would otherwise be unavailable to individual refugees.

Every dollar donated is leveraged into ten dollars in legal services.


IRAP focuses on the following programs and efforts: