Oxford based

Maria Assaf

Maria is a Colombian-Canadian freelance reporter who writes for immigrant community media outlets in Toronto. She has reported for Latin American, Filipino and West Indian newspapers in Canada for over four years. Maria has also written for the National Post’s world section and interned at CTV News Toronto. She completed her bachelor degree in journalism at Ryerson University in Canada. Maria is currently fulfilling an MA in Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University, where she is researching refugee media outlets in Turkey. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and has basic French knowledge. Her goal is to report on development, politics and human rights issues. In addition to this, Maria works as a translator and interpreter for researchers, reporters and development practitioners. In 2015, she travelled through Colombia’s conflict areas as a research assistant and interpreter to help set up a project on symbolic violence and conflict transformation with vulnerable communities in the Valle del Cauca and Tolima regions. Her Twitter handle is @MariaAssaf and samples of her work can be viewed at: http://news.nationalpost.com/author/massaf2013 

Abeera Arif-Bashir

Abeera Arif-Bashir trained as a lawyer in Lahore, Pakistan, participating in relief operations with the United Nations Association of Pakistan directed towards displaced peoples in earthquake-hit areas in 2005 and 2007. Soon after, she moved to London to pursue her Master of Laws from Queen Mary University of London, gaining varied professional and academic experience in matters related to refugee access to legal assistance and refugee agency in political and civic participation. Since graduating Abeera has undertaken professional training and internships to gain casework and field experience with Medical Justice, SOAS Detainee Support, and AVID, and regularly provides support to asylum claimants held at UK detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood, Campsfield House, Colnbrook, and Harmondsworth. Alongside her longstanding interest in cultures of procedural informality in the admittance and integration of refugees in Pakistan, her recent activities have led her to examine and explore the experience of refugees in transit across the Western Balkans. Her findings have been published on platforms such as OpenDemocracy and the Balkanist. Abeera joined the Rights in Exile Programme after undertaking the International Summer School on Refugee Law at the Centre for Refugee and IDP Studies (CESI) at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo. Abeera speaks Urdu, Punjabi, Saraiki, and English, and is fast becoming proficient in Arabic and Pashto.

Fatima Hashmi

Fatima completed her MA in Development and Emergency Practice from Oxford Brookes University in 2016, with a special focus on refugee studies and conflict. Her thesis entitled, ‘Forced Migration: An understanding of coping, adaptation and resilience strategies of the Hazara community in Oxford’. Fatima speaks Dari, Urdu and English. At the Rights in Exile Programme, she works as a Programme Developer Volunteer for the Sexual Orientation and Identity (LGBTI) programme. She has worked in Pakistan for USAID and currently works part time for CERAR (Centre for Studies and Research-Actions on Resilience) as a Field Research Officer on the‘Observatory of Symbolic Violence’, an action research project in Colombia. Her recent blog can be viewed at: http://cendep.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Helena Spector

Helena completed her BA at the University of Cambridge on Social Anthropology in 2016, specialising in East and Southern African politics. She has carried out fieldwork in Tanzania and South Africa, and has spent the last six months working with migrant and refugee communities in Cape Town, attempting to procure stable employment opportunities for individuals and carrying out skills training in order to achieve holistic social integration. Helena has managed a research project into Angolan migration to and from South Africa with the Institute for Human Mobility in Africa, gaining insight into the interdependencies between mobility, agency and institutional participation, particularly concerning academia. Prior to this, Helena gained legal experience volunteering at the Colorado Lawyers Committee, a network of pro-bono lawyers advocating and litigating for under-served groups across Colorado, and has campaigned with One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy group for Coloradan national and non-national communities alike. She speaks basic French, Swahili and Setswana. 

Emma Middleton

Emma is studying for her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Arabic at the University of St Andrews. In 2015, she was selected as a participant for the Clinton Global Initiative University and received a grant to help Sierra Leonians affected by Ebola develop community-run sustainable agricultural practices. Emma is the Director of Content for Protocol Magazine, a student-run human rights publication based in St Andrews, and has also interned at a risk consultancy and the World Affairs Council. She speaks French and intermediate Arabic.

Michael Boyle

Michael is studying for an MA in Migration Studies at the University of Sussex, and has a particular interest in supporting social marginalised migrant groups in the UK. He is a co-founder and coordinator of a drop-in centre that offers companionship, solidarity and a range of classes and activities to refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants (www.akwaaba.org.uk), and a qualified adult educator who teaches ESOL and community integration classes for ELATT, a charitable training provider. Michael was previously the Casework and Advocacy Intern at the Hackney Migrant Centre and a volunteer at the Cambridge City Foodbank. Prior to that, he completed a BA in History and Economics at the University of Oxford, during which he specialised in industrialisation and development.


Based remotely

Jill Alpes

Post-Deportation Monitoring Network Coordinator

Jill is a legal anthropologist and postdoc researcher at the migration law section VU Amsterdam and the CERI at Sciences Po Paris. Her current research is focused on return related risks for non-admitted migrants and the criminalisation of emigration. Jill holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam, an MA in development studies from Sciences Po Paris, and a BA in history and politics from the University of Sheffield. She is an experienced fieldwork researcher with a variety of sensitive state and non-state actors (e.g. consulate offices, airports, prisons, police posts and migration brokers). She has conducted missions in rural and urban Africa and Asia and has been teaching on human trafficking, development and international politics and migration law. She has been working on vulnerabilities and protection mechanisms for migrants, women and children in collaboration with UNESCO, the IOM, the Samu Social, and PICUM.

Kate Ravin

Kate is working as a consultant in Oxford, evaluating the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN). Kate Ravin holds a Master of Arts in International Studies from the Korbel School for International Studies (University of Denver) and speaks English and French. While in graduate school, Kate completed an internship at the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and volunteered for a Denver-based NGO that provided pro bono legal services to asylum-seekers. She has over four and a half years of experience in refugee resettlement working with Church World  Service and UNHCR (Uganda, Namibia, Malawi), and has extensive experience working with persons from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Somalia. While at RSC Africa, Kate also accompanied adjudicating officers from United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on field missions, and reviewed their case decisions. 

Alessandra Di Cataldo 

Alessandra is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, studying towards a degree in Arabic and Politics. She is a dual citizen of the United States and Italy, and grew up in Baltimore, USA, while her family currently lives in Rome. She has just finished her year abroad in Amman, Jordan, where she studied Arabic language and Middle Eastern culture, media, and literature at the Institut Français du Proche-Orient. Alessandra plans to pursue a master’s degree in refugee studies after graduating next year, and will hopefully go on to work at an NGO which deals with refugees in the future.

Gabriel Bonis

Gabriel Bonis completed his MA in International Relations from Queen Mary, University of London in 2014. In his dissertation, he analysed if the 2008 financial crisis led France and Germany to reduce their average asylum recognition rates between 2008 and 2013. He also holds a Honors Postgraduate degree in Politics and International Relations from the Foundation School of Sociology and Politics of Sao Paulo and a Honors BA in Social Communications/Journalism. He edits a blog of international affairs at CartaCapital magazine, one of the most prominent publications of Brazil, and is a Refugee Caseworker at the British Red Cross in London. Speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Vera Wriedt

Vera completed her BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in 2014. She works as an intern for the Sexual Orientation and Identity (LGBTI) programme and is coordinating Oxford Migrant Solidarity, a group visiting detainees in Campsfield IRC near Oxford. Vera is fluent in English, German, and Spanish, and has good oral and written knowledge of French. Seeking to expand her academic and practical engagement with refugee rights, Vera plans to pursue an LLM in Human Rights with specific focus on refugees next year. 

Tamara van Doorn

Tamara holds a M.Sc. in Cultural Anthropology & Development Studies from Radboud University, Netherlands, where she focused on migration, specifically pilgrimage in Northern India, spending several months in Asia and the Middle East. At the Rights in Exile Programme, she assists with the Post-Deportation Monitoring Network and the Sexual Orientation and Identity (LGBTI)  programme. Tamara has spent significant time with refugee organizations in Israel, and hopes to continue working and learning about refugee law through IRRI. She speaks Dutch and English.


For a list of our past volunteers, please see this list.