NRC ICLA team doing outreach work in an informal settlement for Syrian refguees in Wadi Khaled in Northern Lebanon. Photo credit: NRC/Christian Jepsen February 2014
Legal assistance (ICLA)
Read caption ICLA team doing outreach work in an informal settlement for Syrian refugees in Wadi Khaled, northern Lebanon. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

Legal assistance (ICLA)

Published 09. Jun 2016
Many displaced people face human rights violations.

Whether they have just fled from their homes, have been displaced for a long time or are preparing to return home, displaced people often experience rights violations.

NRC's legal assistance (ICLA) programmes support refugee and IDP women and men in 20 conflict-affected countries to claim their rights. Our aim is to empower people to survive displacement and build new lives.

In 2015, NRC provided information, counselling, legal assistance or training to over 700,000 people.

How ICLA works

Our ICLA activities concentrate on four areas: 

  • Housing, land and property (HLP) rights
  • Access to a legal identity
  • Support to apply for refugee status
  • Support to register as an internally displaced person (IDP)


Housing, land and property rights

Displaced people face particular challenges in enjoying their housing, land and property rights. Many have lost their homes because they have been destroyed during conflict. They can find themselves in temporary housing, under constant threat of eviction.

Women are particularly affected. They face additional discrimination, and sometimes denied inheritance by their families and evicted from their homes when their husband dies or if they get divorced.

Our ICLA teams work with a range of justice mechanisms – traditional, religious and statutory – to help solve disputes over HLP and promote access to justice.

Read more about our work on housing, land and property rights.


Legal identity

Access to rights and services, such as free movement, food, housing, education and health, often depends on the state recognising legal identity. Displaced people face specific obstacles that prevent them from accessing legal identity.

This has negative consequences for their rights and their access to services, including humanitarian assistance. ICLA assists displaced persons to obtain legal identity so that they can enjoy their rights.

People reached in 2015

Information sessions


information sessions were provided



people received counselling services

Legal assistance


people received legal assistance

“I wanted to work as an entrepreneur, but it was difficult to prove I was from an area not under the government’s control. The legal aid centre explained my rights to me and helped me get a certificate to prove I was displaced from my hometown. Now I can register as an entrepreneur and earn a living.”
Alina, 25, who fled her home in Horlivika City, Ukraine.

On the ground, our ICLA teams: 

  • Provide reliable and updated information on how to claim and exercise rights while in displacement.
  • Counselling on how to overcome specific legal problems related to displacement: for example, assisting newborn refugees to obtain a birth certificate.
  • Represent displaced people when they need greater support to exercise their rights: for example, claiming inherited land through customary justice mechanisms.
  • We also assist with mediatio. For example between a refugee and their landlord to prevent forced eviction.


Throughout, we always:

  • Respect confidentiality. We safeguard personal and sensitive information.
  • Respect professional and ethical legal standards.
  • Provide services free of charge.


ICLA on the ground

Our ICLA teams work in 20 countries around the world. Here are some examples of the difference they make:     

AFGHANISTAN | Finding a new home

Returning to Afghanistan after living 13 years as refugees in Pakistan, the people of the town of Kishinde found their homeland in ruins. With no other options, they travelled to the outskirts and settled on vacant land.


LEBANON | Fleeing your home, living stateless

Where over one million Syrian refugees have escaped the conflict, an estimated 36,000 children born to Syrian parents are at risk of becoming stateless.


UKRAINE | Opening a new legal centre in eastern Ukraine

NRC opens a new legal aid centre in the city of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine. The centre provides free legal advice to internally displaced people and others affected by the conflict.

Contact Details:

For more information on NRC's ICLA Programmes please contact:

For more information on NRC's work on displaced women's HLP rights, please visit the , or contact: