In 2008, five students founded IRAP as an extracurricular organization at Yale Law School: one was a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; another was a journalist who had reported from Iraq; three others had worked with refugees. Shortly after they launched IRAP, law student counterparts at New York University and U.C. Berkeley founded IRAP chapters. The law students realized the importance of engaging pro bono attorneys to provide direct legal representation to refugees overseas who had never before had access to counsel.
In 2010, IRAP joined the Urban Justice Center, a public interest organization that is home to ten New York-based legal service and systemic advocacy projects.
Since that time, IRAP has built an in-house staff based in New York and established offices in Jordan and Lebanon. Our network of legal representatives has also grown substantially: today, there are 29 IRAP chapters at law schools in the United States and Canada, supported in their work by over 75 international law firms and multinational corporations that provide pro bono assistance.
IRAP began by serving Iraqi refugees because of the clear obligations of Western countries, and the United States in particular, to provide relief to those who were unintended victims of the Iraq War. Since our inception, IRAP has expanded to assist refugees from Afghanistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen.
In 2015, IRAP rebranded as the International Refugee Assistance Project to more accurately reflect the life-saving work we perform on behalf of vulnerable refugees around the world.