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Deepa Nambiar


Director of global programs and policy, Asylum Access

As an adolescent and an avid reader, Deepa Nambiar was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s and Phoolan Devi’s autobiographies and their courage in fighting injustices. They left an indelible mark on her and cultivated her sense of justice. Like her idols, she was prepared to help the needy.

Her journey in advocating for refugee rights was by chance. An NGO called out for legal support for their refugee clients at the time, and as a young lawyer, she didn’t hesitate to offer her expertise. While volunteering, she discovered sensible laws addressing host community concerns while protecting the rights of refugees, though lacking, were possible and necessary.

“As someone with a legal background and a passion for this cause, I thought I might be able to help make a difference,” says Deepa, who left her law firm to pursue a master’s degree in international human rights law.

Today, the director of global programs and policy leads Asylum Access Global Services, an arm of Asylum Access that builds partnerships with other national-level civil society and refugee-led organisations to launch, scale or enhance their refugee legal empowerment or policy advocacy programmes.

“I really believe in creative collaborations to solve tough challenges. My hope is that through partnerships and knowledge exchange with national civil society organisations, and meaningful engagement with different actors – from refugees themselves to the government and the private sector – we can strengthen national refugee protection systems and come up with solutions that really work on the ground. Then it’s a matter of scaling and influence – building on good models in other parts of the world so that eventually refugees everywhere will have the opportunity to rebuild their lives,” she says.

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