Refugee Voices – Ashraf From Sudan
Protecting the persecuted is a core American ideal. At Human Rights First, we help asylum seekers who fled persecution and violence navigate the complex U.S. legal system by matching them with high-quality pro bono attorneys. Explore Ashraf's inspiring journey from persecution to freedom.
Ashraf was threatened, harassed, and attacked in his home country of Sudan because of his political activities. He fled the country with his wife and six month-old son in order to save his life and received asylum in 1998 through the assistance of Human Rights First. After winning asylum, Ashraf set up a non-profit, the Gena Foundation, dedicated to providing primary health services and education to marginalized and vulnerable populations in Sudan. In September 2011, Ashraf participated in the UN’s Department of Public Information NGO conference bringing together more than 1,500 non-profits from around the world. Ashraf presented the Gena Foundation’s work and met with UN officials. He hopes that these connections will help him to advance the good work he is trying to accomplish through his organization.
“FOR US ASYLUM SEEKERS, WHEN WE ARRIVE IN THE UNITED STATES, WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH A LOT TO FIND OUR WAY….HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST, THEY DID AN AMAZING JOB BY MAKING EVERY RESOURCE AVAILABLE TO US.”
HUMAN RIGHTS IN SUDAN
Sudan is a country that has been marked by genocide and warfare. Human rights activists are frequently targeted for persecution.
The Sudanese government uses torture against members of the political opposition, civil society activists, and journalists – often arresting and detaining these individuals incommunicado, without charge. Detainees like Abdalmageed are regularly subjected to harsh interrogation tactics, such as being forced to endure extreme temperature variations.
LAWYERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“Mr. Allen Sokal did a great job…an amazing job putting together a lot of documentation. And in 1998, I was granted asylum.”
To obtain asylum, a person must prove that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution based on his or her political opinion, religion, race, nationality, or membership in a particular social group. The asylum seeker can be granted asylum after an interview by a specially-trained asylum officer or after a hearing with an immigration judge. Asylum seekers often struggle to navigate the complex system without quality legal counsel. This is where Human Rights First’s Refugee Representation program comes in. Pro bono attorneys can have life-changing impacts on asylum seekers’ lives.