World Refugee Day highlights work of Keck School Human Rights Clinic

World Refugee Day highlights work of Keck School Human Rights Clinic


Saturday is World Refugee Day, organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency. According to the U.N., “every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.” The COVID-19 outbreak and recent anti-racism protests have drawn more attention to their plight.

The remembrance also highlights the work being done by the Keck School Human Rights Clinic (KHRC), a student-run clinic founded in 2017 that is “dedicated to providing forensic medical and psychological evaluations to survivors of human rights abuses seeking asylum in the United States.”

Here’s more information about KHRC from co-presidents Sophia Zhou and Kshitij Gaur, second-year med students (the faculty leaders are Dr. Mary Cheffers and Dr. Todd Schneberk): 

“KHRC works with lawyers to provide essential medical and psychological evaluations to clients who are seeking asylum in the United States. Los Angeles has one of the largest populations of asylum seekers in the country, including individuals who are fleeing from violence, human trafficking, and persecution in their home countries.

“KHRC provides affidavits for asylum seekers in the community and detention centers throughout Southern California. We have also expanded provision of cases along the border in Mexico and have piloted a tele-evaluation platform to continue providing case assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Asylum seekers who are able to receive a forensic medical evaluation are 8 times more likely to win their asylum case than those who do not receive this service, making the work we do here very important.

“KHRC holds annual training workshops for students and providers to learn how to perform forensic medical evaluations and write affidavits, and strives to provide anyone seeking asylum with a fair chance at legal representation. Our clinic has observed more than 50 cases in the past year. KHRC has also begun collaborating with SDPHRC, based out of USC’s Suzanne Dworack-Peck School of Social Work, to increase access to social work services for clients.”

Read more about World Refugee Day: