Press Release | 27 February 2007
Refugees launch European network to advocate for their rights

Press are welcome to the launch, Wednesday 28th February 2007, 18.30 at Member Salon, European Parliament, ASP building, Rue Wiertz, Brussels.

Today, after four years of hard work, representatives of twelve refugee community organisations in Europe will launch the European Refugee Advocacy Organisation (ERAD) in the European Parliament, at a reception hosted by Jean Lambert MEP and addressed by Angela Martini from the European Commission.

ERAD has been created by a group of refugees and asylum seekers from across Europe with the aim of advocating for fair and humane EU policy. ERAD will advocate with human rights and migrant rights organisations working at EU level.

Zemikael Habte-Mariam, spokesperson for ERAD, said: "We subscribe to the concept of self-advocacy as encapsulated in the African proverb "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day but show him how to fish, you feed him for life." We believe in empowering asylum seekers/refugees and their organisations to advocate for their own rights. ERAD will work in collaboration with the EU Institutions to develop policies that enable asylum seekers and refugees to integrate fully into their host societies for the mutual benefit of our communities."

Jean LAMBERT, MEP said: "Most significantly, ERAD will not be made up of NGOs working on refugee issues, but will be an organisation directly composed of asylum seekers and refugees based in Europe. ERAD will therefore directly represent these perspectives at EU-level and will thereby help to inform the work of ECRE and others working in the field, as well as EU-level decision makers."

ERAD acknowledges the support and endorsement of Jean Lambert MEP, and Hannes Swoboda, MEP and the support and guidance received from ECRE - European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

ERAD appeals to the representatives of international media organisations to work with ERAD and its partner organisations in supporting our campaign for better protection and genuine integration of asylum seekers and refugees living in Europe.

Contact details:
Zemikael Habte-Mariam, Coordinator
Email: Tel: +447944668194

Notes for Editors:
1) Founding members of ERAD are: AfrikaZentrum Chiala'Afriqas (Austria), Flemish Association of Russian speakers (Belgium), The Refugee Advice Centre (UK), Hakunila International (Finland), Association pour la défense des réfugiés Africains de France, Internationaler Menschenrechtsverein (Germany), Mesopatamia Iraq Association (Greece), Arewa Association of Rwandan Refugees (Netherlands), (Austria), Wales Refugee Voice (UK), Irish Refugee Council (Ireland), Afghan Cultural Community (Italy).

© ERAD - European Refugee Advocacy Organisation 2007